Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
The first time I ever wore my pair of Chelsea boots from New Republic, a stranger tried to stop me on the street. I say tried because, like any good New Yorker, I kept walking thinking this guy was trying to sell me something or ask for directions. But the guy persisted and kept walking behind me, explaining that he just wanted to know where I got my boots. I stopped, flattered, and told him that I ordered them from New Republic and that he should hurry because they were on sale for $99.
I was wrong, though, because these Chelseas were in fact not on sale—they're actually always only $99 and they're beautiful enough to halt people on the streets of New York like boots that cost five times that much. Here's why they deserve a place in your rotation.
They're Criminally Well Priced
I hate to write this right now on the off chance that someone at New Republic sees my glowing praise and raises the price on these boots. Because they could. The next-cheapest competitor will cost a couple hundred dollars at least, yet these look and feel like a pair of boots that broke the bank. Hell, for this price, you could theoretically have a different pair to wear every day of the week and still save yourself money.
It's The Easiest Style Flex
There's a reason that everyone from Kanye West to Harry Styles will be caught in Chelsea boots once fall and winter hit. They're functionally easy to wear (no laces!) and fashionably easy to wear. These boots can be dressed down or dressed up and be your go-to footwear no matter where you're headed or what the weather is like. And since Chelsea boots have such a simple, streamlined shape, the differences in look between the New Republic pair and something that cost upwards of $400 are negligible to all but the most discerning eyes. Plus, this is a closet staple—a look that never goes out of style. If it's boot weather outside, I'll happily wear these bad boys to the airport so I don't have to deal with tying and untying at security.
They're Quality Boots For Any Price
Look, it's easy to think that a cheap pair of boots will wear like a cheap pair of boots. But these are absolutely not shoddily made. I've had my pair for over a year and they still are going strong. These things aren't falling apart any time soon. In fact, despite having been worn a few times a week for the last year, they still pretty much look like I just took them out of the box. The suede has held up, the soles are showing little sign of wear and tear, and there's no indication of any part of the upper detaching from the bottom of the shoe. Which is good, because I plan on wearing these as long as possible. And even when they wear out, I won't feel guilty spending money replacing them.
Article published in Esquire Magazine August 15, 2018. https://www.esquire.com/style/mens-fashion/a22718205/new-republic-chelsea-boot-endorsement/
If you have been in the bodybuilding space for just a short period of time, chances are, you have stumbled upon the word Nitric Oxide (NO). Its loved by bodybuilders and for a good reason. Its probably best know for it’s ability to give the user a feeling known as “the pump” - the street name for hyperemia which is an increase of blood flow to different tissues in the body.
In addition to this, increased NO levels can improve the effectiveness of your workouts. NO will dilute your veins, and because of this, allows your muscles to receive more oxygen and nutrients. So you get the Pump, better workout sessions, but there is also proof that it speeds up recovery, has cognitive improving features, the ability to up your sex drive, and more.
As you can tell, there is enough stuff here, to write about Nitric Oxide for days, but in today’s post, this isn't the focus. The focus is on how you can boost your NO levels, in a safe and natural manner.
For many—well, for me—sherry conjures memories of furtively swigging a sweet, creamy substance from a sticky bottle stowed in the back of grandma's cupboard when no one was watching. Despite its low-quality reputation, the fortified wine is one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated categories in the world of wines and spirits.
But that's about to change: as we learned at this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in late July—think Comic-Con for the booze industry—sherry is the next big thing.
With varieties spanning the spectrum from thin and dry to viscous and sweet, the beverage is anything but new: It has been made in Spain for centuries and was integral to that county's culture well before the British brought it home as a spoil of war in the late 16th Century. Stateside, it enjoyed early, immense popularity (we're talking colonial-times early). The sherry cobbler—a mix of sherry, sugar, and citrus served over crushed ice—was so trendy in 19th Century America that it led to the rise of the straw so that those with rotted teeth could sip their cocktails pain-free.
Post-Prohibition, sherry was gradually pigeonholed as the forgettable sweet aperitif synonymous with brands like Harvey's Bristol Cream—a bastardization of the traditional form. Dry sherries were nowhere to be found. Thus, with the rise of dry wine's popularity in the second half of the Twentieth Century, sherry fell out of favor, tarnished by its false reputation of always having a cloying sweetness. "It's a great lesson in how fashion so often fails us," says Talia Baiocchi, author of Sherry(2014) and co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine PUNCH.
Today, dry sherry is gaining traction. Part of that is the evolution of the American palate toward acidic, savory, and bitter flavors. Another is that chefs and sommeliers are realizing it pairs together well with food, from oysters to shrimp to Iberico ham. But its revival can be largely attributed to bartenders who've rediscovered its important role in many classic cocktail recipes. "The reclamation of sherry as a classic cocktail ingredient—and, perhaps more importantly, as a modern one—really acted as the gateway for sherry back into the consumer's consciousness," says Baiocchi.
WHAT IS SHERRY?
Certain aspects of sherry production remain constant: By law, it is made from white grapes grown in the "Sherry Triangle" anchored by the city of Jerez de la Frontera in the southwestern Spanish province of Cadiz, in which the very light, chalky soil, calledalbariza, uniquely maintains moisture during the rain-deprived summer months. The grapes are fermented, the resulting wine is blended with a grape spirit to up the alcohol content, and the boozy liquid is aged in barrels that are stored aboveground (as opposed to in a cellar). All sherries are produced using the solera method—in which different vintages are combined during years of barrel aging to create the final product.
But that's where the similarities from one bottle to the next end. A good sherry's flavor profile is extremely complex, and can range from notes of citrus, yeast, or sweet caramel on the nose followed by salty, savory, or nutty flavors on the tongue.
Many factors affect the end result—the location of the vineyard (or bodega) in relation to the nearby Atlantic Ocean, the alcohol content (ranging from 15% to 22%). But what most defines the style of sherry is the level of exposure to flor—a layer of yeast that grows at the top of most dry sherry barrels as they age, which prevents oxidation to varying degrees depending on how much the yeasty cap covers. Oxidized styles such as oloroso have shed their bright-fruit flavors entirely, giving way to more candied-fruit and nutty flavors. Sherries that have been partly or wholly protected from oxidation must be treated like other wine after opening—they should be consumed quickly to be fully enjoyed before losing freshness. I don't think Grandma realized that.
As sherry's popularity returns, so too has the interest in innovative production methods. One such style is known as en rama, in which bottling takes place when the juice is unfiltered, resulting in a cloudy liquid with more minerality. "En rama is one of the more fascinating developments of late," says Rafael Mateo, owner of New York City's Pata Negra, a Spanish-style wine bar featuring a long list of sherries. "It is pure. It is all the rage now."
In order of lowest to highest exposure to oxidation, here are the most common styles of dry sherry and a recommended bottle for each:
Description: The classic and most widely available style. A full flor cap covers the barrel as it ages, and the spirit is therefore not exposed to air at all.
Sherry's return to cocktail menus has been as a sort of Trojan Horse, appearing first as a modifier rather than a base. (An explanation of those terms by way of example: gin or vodka is the base of a Martini, and vermouth is the modifier.) While speaking at a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, Michael Callahan, General Manager and founding bartender of Singapore's 28 Hong Kong Street, said, "You're not seeing it used as a base that often." But he believes that the more bartenders incorporate it, the more popular it will become: "By educating staff and patrons, they are going to start wanting more of it."
In that spirit, here are a few of our favorites—one old, one adapted from a classic, and one new—to get you started ahead of the inevitable curve.
Background: While its exact origin is unknown, the cocktail was named after the play, "Adonis," which debuted at the Bijou Theater on Broadway in 1884. This recipe is an interpretation of the original, which called only for two parts "dry sherry" and one part sweet vermouth.
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica)
1 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Fino Sherry
Lemon twist, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except the lemon twist in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain the cocktail into a cocktail glass. Express the oils from the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in as garnish.
Add all ingredients except the garnish, to a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Express the oils from a wide grapefruit twist over the glass and garnish with the spent twist.
Elliot Sudal went viral last summer. This year, things are different.
Elliot Sudal caught a few sharks from the shoreline this morning. Got them on the line, reeled them in, pulled them onto the sand, affixed a tag to their backs. Then, after a quick measurement and a quicker picture, back into the Nantucket waters they went. He's at 49 sharks this year. So far.
Last summer, a video of Sudal, 27, wrestling a shark went viral, getting picked by Good Morning America and pulling in over 3 million hits on YouTube. He flashed across computer screens, the bro in the Chubbies and the shark-tooth necklace—made from the tooth of a 25-footer strung with the first line he ever caught a shark on—with an apparent death wish. Angry emailers told him they hoped "a shark drags you underwater and takes a photo of you." Another asked asked, "How loud was your Nickelback playing in your pickup truck?"
Virality brought on other changes. For one, Sudal got tapped by NOAA to put his talent to use. Now, he collects data from the sharks he catches, tagging them for research purposes. And this summer he got $1,500 shark bite insurance so the Snapchatting beach hoards can't sue him should anything horrible happen, god forbid.
Sudal can't do this forever. When he stops, he'll be immortalized as the Saltwater Cowboy, the Shark Wrestler, and, if things go the way he wants, an author with a TV show. But for now, it's as good—and as ballsy, and as extreme—a gig as any. We talked to him about his work.
ESQ: What's your day job?
Sudal: This is it. I take people shark fishing. The last couple years I've driven a tuna boat for a family—the guy's a hedge-fund dude, so the tuna boat is like his toy. This year, I was like, well, I'll just lead charters from the beach. I gotta put in all these tags anyway, and I can make money to do it, and it gives me an opportunity to talk to people about everything we're doing with these tags.
Why do people object to it?
I have to bring a shark out of the water for 45 seconds to a minute to get the hook out, put the tag in, get a measurement, take a blood sample, and get it back in. And I do move them by their tail two or three feet, and some people think it's the most brutal, horrible thing in the world. But in reality, when we are tagging sharks, it's way safer than in a boat. When I get the hook out, it's on soft, wet sand. The shark is still getting waves washing over it. I can promote the tagging aspect and certain things like the style of circle hook, for example—they're much safer, they don't gut hook the shark ever.
Can you walk me through a catch?
I have gigantic, 15-foot rods with huge reels and about a 100-pound cast line on them. So I'll cast out these lines with a big chunk of blue fish or whatever on a circle hook for bait, and I'll stick them in the sand. I'll line up three rods. And when the shark hits one, you'll just see a 15-foot rod just straight and narrow—they're ripping off the line. Totally exciting.
It usually takes anywhere from five to 20 minutes to get the shark to the beach. At that point, I jump into the water, grab her, and sort of gently move her backwards, remove the hook, do what I need to do, and then I let her go.
What's the purpose of the tag?
This program that I'm working now, the NOAA Apex Predators tagging program, it's the largest shark tagging project in the world. It's been going on for 55 years and primarily tracks sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. You put a tag in their back, which essentially gives the shark a serial number. If it's been captured or whatever, found again, you can see where the shark's traveled from. In the last 55 years, they've tagged 300,000 sharks. You can compare things like how water quality or water temperature affect why certain species are migrating up to Nantucket or Maine, or wherever they're going.
The key is to detect the places where they're reproducing. The sharks I'm catching here are 98 percent female. So we're trying to prove Nantucket Sound is indeed a place where they're having their pups, and if we can prove this, we could get some of the commercial fishing pushed out of here. Because there are certain draggers that come through this area, and when they do, they just net up everything on the bottom, so I'm sure they kill thousands and thousands of sharks each year.
Why do you do it?
I mean, this is the most extreme form of beach fishing you can possibly get. Catching a 300-pound-plus animal, just from a recreational, sport fishing aspect, is as good as it gets. But adding the tagging is pretty cool because it adds a conservation element, and it is valuable data. The other day, we got a shark that was tagged 13 years ago, and grew 63 centimeters in 13 years. It's a piece of the puzzle figuring out how we're impacting shark populations around the country.
Seems pretty dangerous. Have you had any close calls?
Yeah. This is dumb, but I was cutting up a piece of blue fish, and it sliced underneath my nail, and I've just been in and out of the hospital for the last few days with fish poisoning. It's kind of funny because I've caught hundreds of sharks, and all the sudden, a dead blue fish sent me to the hospital. I've not been bit.
If you were to get bitten, would that change your mind about doing this?
Probably. I mean, no one would feel sorry for me. I have a shark-bite kit in my car: hydrogen peroxide, gauze. That would hold me over until I got to the hospital. It would be bad, especially from a tiger shark, which can bite a sea turtle in half. That's like two inches of bone. Do you know hard it is to bite a pistachio? Imagine a sea turtle shell. We have a ton of great whites around Cape Cod and the islands right now. I see all these seals that have just been chomped in half by great whites washing up. I measured a 22-inch bite mark the other day. The great white is the most powerful bite in the animal planet. I would probably be not doing this as much if I got bit.
Sharks are pretty notorious, but very few people have actually encountered one. What are they like?
They feel like sandpaper, first of all. I think a lot of people think they'd be slimy, but they feel literally like sandpaper, and when they rub against you, it's like your skin is sanded off. The big ones especially are really lazy when you get them up on the beach. The smaller ones, the five- and 10-footers, will really go crazy. If you're going to get bit by a shark, it's probably going to be by a four- or five-footer because they're so fast. They can reach around their tail. An eight- to 10-foot shark, 500 pounds, just kinda can't move that fast. Their brains are the size of a pea; there's not much going on. They don't feel pain. They have a goofy look on their face most of the time. They don't seem like these horrible killers that people tend to think.
I read that because of climate change, the warming oceans are pushing sharks further north every year, and scientists have expected that 2016 is going to be a pretty big year for shark attacks.
It's actually a record low for shark attacks so far this year. The average is 75 to 100 a year worldwide. This year, it's at 20 or 30 so far, according to the article that I read.
The changing ocean temperatures: is that something you can monitor through these tags?
I've caught sharks in water temperatures from 57 degrees all the way to 85 degrees. They are very sensitive, but moreso to pollution. This species of shark originally reproduced in the Long Island Sound hundreds of years ago. As the water quality got so bad from all the pollution, they migrated to the Chesapeake Bay, where they reproduce now. I guess that's been getting worse down there, so researchers think they might be coming up and reproducing in Cape Cod and around the islands in Nantucket Sound. The sharks I'm catching are huge—I've had at least 12 sharks that have broken the state record. And sharks live 40 to 50 years. It'd be really cool to prove they are reproducing here.
So, what's next?
We filmed a really crazy show pilot and have some funding behind it. My girlfriend's involved; she represents Maine in the USA pageant. I travel around the country trying to make it doing what I love. It's not exactly easy to make a ton of money catching sharks, but you get sponsors, you take people out. We've been talking to some networks, hoping to go fulltime. That's the dream, for now.
What is the common thread that links the people we most admire, whether it's successful CEOs, high flying sportsmen or novelists who find the time to, y'know, write a damn book?
You can bet your bowl of cornflakes they know exactly what they're doing with their mornings.
Just as breakfast is the most important meal (your mom was right), first light is the most important time of day: it is your launch pad, your tone setter, your first step on the road to greatness.
It is also a total drag.
If, like many a 'I'm not a morning person' person, you start most days by succumbing to your alarm 45 minutes late, flailing out of bed and running out the door in a creased shirt without breakfast, you could probably do with tweaking your process a bit.
Here, then, are nine simple steps you can take to mastering the morning. Good luck.
Use the night before wisely
Every grown adult has cottoned on to the morning minute-shaving benefits of laying out your outfit and ironing your office shirt over Game of Thrones before bed. But what about savings yourself some mental stress by prepping for your working day? Sending yourself an email before you leave the office with tomorrow's tasks will buy you some valuable mental space first thing. And if you want to fake to your colleagues that you're a morning pro, schedule an early morning email to the them with the objectives of the day.
Protect your sleep
Your wind down before bed has a huge impact on the quality of your sleep and thus how you'll feel in the morning. You can read our guide to kicking bad pre-sleep habits here, but know that blue light emitting screens, exercise, the wrong dinner and—shock horror—coffee all have a big impact.
Master your alarm, don't let it master you
Have you ever made a resolution to wake at the first call of your alarm then found yourself totally incapacitated? In the first moments of waking our reactions, alertness and ability to complete tasks suffer due to sleep inertia. This means our decisions are not rational, which is why we hit the sleep button. Try to set your alarm with enough time for a 10-15 minute snooze period before you get out of bed. The longer you continue snoozing the harder it becomes, so only allow yourself one treat. If you can't resist temptation, download an alarm app where you need to complete a task in order to silence the alarm - this will combat the effects of sleep inertia. And if that doesn't work, maybe consider night shifts.
Sweat yourself awake
Level of hormones that help build muscle, like testosterone, are elevated in the morning so exercising early means taking advantage of your natural body cycle. Also, 'fasting cardio' - going for a jog without eating first - is proven to burn fat faster. Then you can factor in the endorphin rush that will put you in a smiley good guy mood for the rest of the day. All in all, exercising first thing is a no-brainers, though if you can't muster a 5K or stint in the gym, this bedroom workout is perfect for the morning and can be tailored for how long you have to spare.
Feed yourself intelligently
Although most people believe a sugar or carbohydrate heavy breakfast will give them energy in the morning, most people are wrong. A breakfast that is high in protein will do the same job without causing a mid-afternoon energy slump. If whipping up avocado and bacon first thing is out of the question, prepare something the night before that you can take with you (you find some inspiration here).And if that looks too time consuming, buy some rye bread and either avocado or salmon on the way into work and assemble at your desk for a healthy and filling breakfast and no cooking needed. Don't worry - everyone in your office with get used to the fish smell after you've been doing it a week.
Every notice what every other mammal does when it first wakes up? That's right: they stretch. Bafflingly, few humans do the same beyond a yawn and a three-second arm raise, even though the long term health benefits are numerous and the short term boost both immediate and enjoyable. Your friend here, unsurprisingly, is yoga. Learn to do a simple, gentle ashtanga sun salutation - a short sequence of standing and lying stretches - a couple of times every morning and feel as supple and energised as a lion (OK, maybe a house cat). Keep forgetting? Lay your yoga mat out on the floor before you go to bed for an instant reminder.
Refresh your face
Even if you are getting plenty of sleep, time spent drinking or in the sun shows on your grill. A good serum can fight signs of aging, bags under the eyes and smooth over blemishes and imperfections in the skin. This is one grooming trick to add to your morning routine that takes less than 5 seconds and will show genuine long-term results.
Put your travel time to good use
Most people use their commute for one of three purposes - starting on their work emails, reading the daily news or staring into space blinking slowly as they listen to mind the gap warnings twelve times. The problem is that none of these are particularly relaxing. Studies prove that 'deeper reading' - books, basically - lower stress levels, which is a better start to the day then stressing over unsent invoices or reading about whichever world disaster you're going to see online all day anyway. If books really aren't your thing, try using the Pocket app to store longer articles you see online to read later - you don't even need internet connection to access them. Or if you can't even manage to keep your eyes open, download one of our recommended podcasts instead.
Most of all, do it the same every day
However much of the above advice you take - or even if you ignore it all completely - the best thing you can do with your morning routine is make it run like clockwork (just ask the military). Not only will doing everything at the same time each morning help you remember to achieve all you want to achieve but, crucially, you'll be eliminating the need to make decisions (the last thing your brain wants to do first thing) and removing stress and panic from your morning. Find a routine you like, repeat and conquer.
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Courtesy of Freemans Sporting Club's new made-to-order program.
The prospect of a custom-made suit is great, but going bespoke is expensive—in terms of both time and actual dollars spent. You have to get to the store, get measured, and go through multiple fittings before you finally get your hands on the finished product. And while there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, if you're the kind of guy who fits into an off-the-rack suit pretty easily, it might not be necessary.
Freemans Sporting Club
Ah, but the details! The crucial decision between a double-breasted or single-breasted silhouette. The type of pocket—patch or flap? The vents, the lining...we could go on. What if you want to pick those out for yourself? Well, now you can do just that for an American-made suit thanks to the folks at Freemans Sporting Club, which just launched its made-to-order service online.
Want a DB in nailhead wool, finished with a welt breast pocket and double vents? No problem. Single-breasted with patch pockets in a silk-and-linen blend? Yep, you can do that, too. It's still an investment—pricing starts at $1,000 and the production process takes four to six weeks—but it's a whole lot less expensive and time-consuming than going the traditional route. And that's exactly what some guys (maybe even you!) are looking for.
No, I did not meet Amal. You go to hang with George Clooney these days and that's the first question anyone asks.
Second, George made me a Nespresso. That fact seems to amuse people. It wasn't a big deal—he didn't call it Nespresso—he just asked if I wanted a coffee and then went over to his Nespresso machine and made us each a cup. I'd been hoping for tequila, but then again, it was only about 2:30.
Third, and this takes a little getting used to: He looks and acts just like George Clooney. He's exactly what you'd expect. It's a little stunning.
He strolls up to the photo shoot about 15 minutes early and he looks perfect. Perfect suit, shirt, and tie—looks like someone dressed him but, given that no one else is in evidence, you have to assume that he managed it himself. He's about five-eleven. He goes about 160, 165. Nice-looking guy. Maybe a little product in the hair—photo-ready. (Bill Murray, in contrast arrived at his shoot wearing cargo shorts and a Cubbies T-shirt under a fishing vest, and sporting an Xavier baseball cap with the Nike logo blacked out.)
The only thing that's a little off with Clooney is the slight limp, which gets more pronounced as the photo shoot goes on.
The previous evening, turns out, there'd been a rousing pickleball game on his tennis/basketball court. I can't say for sure, but there may have been drinking. Couple hours in, he bent over to pick up the Wiffle ball and—bang!—down goes Clooney, a disc slipped, immobile.
On the morning of the shoot, at 7:00 a.m., he was in the hospital getting an epidural in his spine so he could withstand the rigors of the day. No biggie. He said he'd hang with us; he hung with us.
David Granger: This will be the ninth time you've been on the cover of Esquire.
George Clooney: This year?
DG: Uh, no. Your first time was after your fifth year on ER—1999.
GC: That was a hell of a cover.
DG: It was such an important thing for us. I'd been there less than two years, and we'd floundered. And then Sam Jones took that picture and we thought: That looks like an Esquire cover.
GC: It's the best cover I've ever taken.
DG: Over the last few days, I read all the stories we've run about you. It was an amazing experience.
GC: I bet.
DG: [Whispers] I didn't remember any of them.
GC: I bet.
DG: I think over the time that you've been on our cover and the time I've been editing this magazine, it's only gotten more complicated to be a man, in part because of the growing influence of women, which we all welcome, and in part because of sexual politics. I think over all this time, you have at least appeared to navigate being a man pretty easily.
GC: I had some pretty good examples in my life. My father's very smart and has a great sense of humor. And some people just feel comfortable in their skin. I have good friends who are like that. And my father is like that and my uncle is like that.
DG: Probably didn't hurt that you were in your thirties when you got famous.
GC: Noah Wyle was 23 when ER got picked up, and by our fifth or sixth show we had 40 million people watching. And I remember Noah asking me, "Is that good?" And I said, "It will never happen again in your lifetime." I was lucky enough to have the perspective to understand when things are good.
DG: It's hard to imagine now, but for a big chunk of your life, you were scrambling like any other American.
GC: Scrambling, yeah, but I made a living for a good portion of that time. In a way you get too much credit. But it's scrambling. The show is gonna get canceled and then you're gonna have to find another gig. People always think you manage your career. You don't manage your career when you're trying to get a job. You're just trying to get a job. And you know this as well as anybody, that it's much later in your career that you can go, Oh, here's what I want to do. Early on, it's just: Get work. Just survive.
DG: Do you remember what it was like to just survive?
GC: I'm directing a movie [Suburbicon], so I was just looking at actors on tape—actors I've worked with and auditioned with, and they're so good, and the minute I see them, I'm thinking,We did a play on Melrose Avenue in 1984. It's a real community.
DG: What's the difference between you and that guy you were acting with in '84?
GC: It's a combination of about 500 different things, but the one thing that you have to have is luck. I've done 13 TV pilots and seven series. I've done series that were considered very good and series that were considered very bad. None of them stuck. And all of a sudden we got a show on Thursday night at ten o'clock. That time slot was the cradle of love—and we had a groundbreaking TV show. Go back to 1994 and look at the first year of ER. It's some great television.
DG: You came to fame right at the beginning of the modern age of fame, when—
GC: When all the fun was gone. Used to be you could be as famous as you wanted. You show up at premieres and everybody cheers and you sign autographs, and then you go off and you drive out to a restaurant and go to dinner and you'd be left alone. Every once in a while some paparazzi would sneak around, but now everybody's got a phone. If all this stuff existed when I was 25, it'd be me getting carried out of some bar by my feet. Cuz I did it all. I had all the fun that you should have. And it would have been multiplied by 10 times had I been famous and rich. I'm just lucky that the advent of camera phones happened when I was 43 years old or something.
DG: Fame is, at this moment, a kind of a double-edged sword. You're one of the most famous men in the world on one end of the spectrum. And Donald Trump is on the opposite end of the spectrum. But it's not just because he's race-baiting that he's doing well. It's because he's famous that people are buying into this stuff.
GC: And he's been famous for 35 years.
DG: You know Hillary Clinton well. Is there a moment you've had with her that crystallizes who she is?
GC: I was a big supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. When I came back from Darfur when she was secretary of state, I would have thought she would have been a little ticked off to meet with me. And she wasn't.
DG: What is it like meeting with a secretary of state?
GC: When I walked out of that room, I was very, very, very glad that she was secretary of state and that she was an informed, responsible, smart person. I don't think she's nearly as good a campaigner as she would be a leader.
DG: Is Obama funny?
GC: Deeply funny. He gets the joke. He's called me a couple of times after I've gotten in an argument with somebody about him. And he's like, "What are you doing fighting with that guy?" That kind of stuff has been very funny.
DG: Have you ever played basketball with him?
GC: We played here in L.A. I did a fundraiser here with him, and he said, "What are you doing tomorrow morning?" I go, "What time?" He goes, "5:30. You wanna play some hoops?" And I go, "Yeah." And he goes, "All right, we'll set it up. You got any of your friends want to play?"
DG: Do they want to play?!
GC: So I started writing my friends, going, "You wanna play basketball with the president of the United States?" Now I have this picture of my buddy elbowing the President. It was really fun. He's a good basketball player.
DG: I'm surprised he even has time to play at 5:30 in the morning.
GC: The truth of the matter is, in my lifetime certainly there's never been a president who's been up against so much obstructionism. There just hasn't been. Period. I don't give a shit what anybody says. Yet he's managed to do an awful lot of things, and he's had to do it with a sense of humor that I wouldn't have kept. At some point, I would've said, "You know what, boys? Why don't we step outside?"
DG: You seem to manage conflict with aplomb. You take stances, you get angry sometimes, and yet I can't remember a time when you've been tarred by your fame.
GC: What you learn is you gotta pick your fights, and the fights you pick have to be about someone besides yourself. You go, "Don't say that my wife should be executed." The Daily Mail sort of pulled one of those, which was inaccurate on every level. Those are the fights you gotta pick.
DG: I was in Milan in January and everybody I met was like, What is going on with the United States?
GC: A Danish reporter asked me, "What's going on with Donald Trump?" And I said, "Well, what's going on with you? You guys just passed a new law says that you're going to take the belongings off of every refugee that comes in to pay for them coming in, which sounds an awful lot like 1938, '39 in Germany." But how am I to defend us when the only voice that's coming out from across the sea is banning Muslims? That's the problem with what's going on. It's not that it's gonna happen; it's that we're broadcasting this to the rest of the world.
Here's the thing about Trump—I was just in Amsterdam, and I'm up onstage, and they go, "What's going on with Trump?" And I said: "Look, we're not going to do these things. We're not going to deport Muslims. We're not going to build a wall." But the problem is all these other countries hear these things, and all of a sudden you see in France that [Jean-Marie] Le Pen is going, "Bravo." You get all of these nutcases on the far-right fringe saying, "Well, if America thinks that…" That is the real problem with Trump—his ideas bleed into the rest of the world. That he says, I'm gonna find every terrorist, and I'm gonna find their family, and I'm gonna execute them…. I'm not gonna let him walk away from that. I'm gonna execute a family?! That's a war crime of the highest level that no one would do. When you say that, that tells all the other people, Okay, well, if they're saying that, then why don't we?
DG: Are you hopeful about the future?
GC: I actually think it looked a lot bleaker in 2008, when the economy tanked. I really thought we were in real trouble.
DG: We were.
GC: This country is a big carrier ship that has to slowly turn all the time to right itself, and it takes longer than we want it to. But if you look at us over the history of time, we really fucked up. We fucked up with the Indians; we fucked up with slavery. We were terrible to women. We fuck up and we fuck up and we fuck up, and we get better. We're not great yet; we haven't fixed it all yet. We didn't figure it out in 1776. We didn't have a Constitution until 1787. It takes a while to figure things out. But what happened in 2008 was: Just when you thought you couldn't figure it out, that the world was gonna go straight to hell, we elected the first African-American ever, who, when he speaks, he makes us feel proud, and makes the rest of the world calm down about the United States.
DG: Probably helped that CNN and Politico weren't covering the emergence of America as an independent nation.
GC: This is the thing that makes me crazy. What's going on in Syria doesn't get airplay. A little boy drowns and washes up on a shore, and [in response] everything was moving in the right direction until Cologne or San Bernardino, and everything changes. We don't have any coverage of what is truly one of the great catastrophes in our lifetime. Six million refugees, it's just a number. But six million. But what if six million of those little boys washed up on the shore?
DG: It's not a rating until that happens.
GC: It's not a rating.
DG: Trump's a rating….
GC: Last night's debate will be known as the I-have-the-biggest-dick debate. When you could have been saying, Let's talk about what we really are going to do about refugees.
What you learn is you gotta pick your fights, and the fights you pick have to be about someone besides yourself.
DG: Looking at the recent films you've been involved in, I get the impression that you basically only work with people you like to work with.
GC: That's pretty true. You try to push out every once in a while, but if I can work with the Coens, if I could work with Soderbergh. If I could work with Alexander Payne. That's where I am in my career right now.
DG: You're retiring from acting, allegedly.
GC: Somebody said, "What are you doing in 10 years?" And I said, "Well, I don't think anybody really wants to see anybody age." But humor doesn't make it in print. The reality is what I was talking about was the kind of parts that I was doing I'm not going to be doing anymore. Paul Newman did it best. He was a movie star, he was a leading man, and then he was like, Now I'm a character actor.
DG: And they were memorable roles.
GC: They just weren't as often and they weren't as much. I'm much more interested in doing films where the role makes sense for me. I'm not gonna be carrying movies the way I did before. There are actors you'll see that try to hold on to this leading-man status long past the due date.
DG: It starts to look ridiculous.
GC: And you get a softer lens, but it doesn't work anymore.
DG: I'm also talking to Bill Murray for this issue.
GC: He's a nut.
The Clooney Impressions. Clockwise from top left: Sammy Davis, Jr., Robert De Niro, Undisclosed, Dick Van Dyke.
DG: Everybody thinks they know him. Is there anything people get wrong about him?
GC: He's oddly emotional. He's incredibly warm and emotional. He gave a toast at our wedding that was so elegant and beautiful and warm and he's such a loving individual. And he's adaptable to anyplace he goes. Everybody's life is a puzzle that's missing this one piece, and he fits in each time.
DG: I wonder if he gets back to you faster than he gets back to me.
GC: Bill comes to see us in Italy every summer. I text him [to see when he wants to come], and then I won't hear from him for three months. Then I'll be in Italy, and he'll call me and say, "I'm here." And I go, "Where?" And he goes, "At the front gate." And I open it, and he comes in.
Another story: We were recording Fantastic Mr. Fox at the house. Wes Anderson and all the guys came there to do it. Bill was coming the next morning. And we all woke up to the news that Owen Wilson tried to hurt himself. And Wes and everyone said, "We have to go back." But Bill was supposed to be in Venice in ten days. And he's like, "Well, what should I do?" I'd only known him from a few parties, but I said, "Well, you can stay here." And he did. And we would just sit and we'd watch television together, or we'd go into the gym and work out. But you could do it and not even talk for hours. I'd come outside and he'd be lying in the grass looking up, and I'd come out and I'd lie in the grass and look up, and we'd just sit there and look up at the stars for two hours. He really is that guy. He's incredibly warm, and he really fits into everyone's life when he shows up.
DG: That's beautiful.
GC: I feel that he gets a good amount of joy out of how much people love him. I think he really likes that.
DG: My image of him will always be at one of his Christmas parties. There will be 400 people there. Emma Stone, Chris Rock, David Letterman. But then he'll turn to you and say, "Would you please talk to that woman over there? She runs the emergency room on Martha's Vineyard. She's a really nice lady. She needs somebody to talk to."
GC: There's this gentleness about him. He's just such a funny, sweet man. Obviously talented, but in many ways he's just a normal guy.
DG: I was asking my staff what I should ask you, what they were curious about. And there was one really simple question that Tyler Cabot thought I should ask. And the question is: "What do you want?"
GC: That's a good question. So I made money. I was broke, but I made my money. I've never been happier in a relationship by any stretch of the imagination. At 52 I found the love of my life and I'm really happy. I enjoy the work that I've been lucky enough to do and I wanna keep doing it. I want to remain creative and be able to stay creative as long as they'll let me. So I wanna do that. But as I've gotten older and as I've gotten more secure in my life, there are a lot of other things that I care about more, which is: the people who don't have the luck that I have. There's a lot of people out there who could use some luck. There's a lot of people in this country, but there's an awful lot of people in this world that could use some luck. And sometimes luck is just shedding the spotlight on the fact that their lives are hell.
DG: A couple years ago I was in the doctor's office for tests and the technician says to me, "So, are you still in the workforce?" And it just bugged the hell out of me.
GC: There isn't this 65-year-old retirement age, you know? We can be working on the things that matter to us, and that we're interested in, until somebody pulls the plug. That's a great place to be. I have a tequila company, right? It's off-the-charts successful. That's going to end up being the most successful thing I've ever been attached to financially.
GC: By far.
DG: And you've done pretty well.
GC: I mean by leaps and bounds. That's one of those things where you go, "Well, how much money do you need?" And then you go, "Well, then, what can we do to make this actually do some good around the world?" That's my interest now: Where can you focus your energy, not just in writing and directing and producing and acting but in actually changing people's lives?
DG: And you have a lot of time to do that.
GC: I'm 54 years old. I'm in good shape and good health for the most part.
DG: Are there any physical compromises you've been forced to make?
GC: I played basketball three times a week up until about a year and a half ago. But each injury takes longer to heal. As we're talking, I've just come from having injections in my back for a slipped disc this morning. So I'm not feeling peak, but I can still hang with the young guys in most sports.
There isn't this 65-year-old retirement age, you know? We can be working on the things that matter to us, and that we're interested in, until somebody pulls the plug.
DG: It is an odd experience sitting here and talking to you—you have a way of making me and probably everybody else feel like we've known you forever. It seems comfortable. It's fuckin' weird.
GC: I didn't grow up afraid of conversation or afraid of people who actually write for a living. I find an actual conversation is not hard to have.
DG: As I've been preparing to leave Esquire, people keep asking me, "So, what's your legacy?" And I've always thought there's no such thing as legacy. Three months after I'm gone, people will have forgotten I was there. Do you think about what lives on beyond you?
GC: I had this conversation with my dad not long ago about legacy. He said, "No one will really remember all the things that I did—the work that I've done." And we were talking and I said, "I look at some of the films that I was able to do—the ones that mattered. Good Night, and Good Luck; Michael Clayton; Out of Sight; Up in the Air; The Descendants. I look back and think I've got seven or eight films that will stand the test of time." And I said, "That's my legacy, I suppose." And he said, "Name me the top ten movie stars in 1930."
He said, "You get 80 years." And he's absolutely right. So if your legacy's gonna count for anything, it actually has to count for the next generation's lives. My family—we were Irish immigrants. And we were shit all over because we were Irish. And people said, "Oh, they're gonna be terrible and a disaster for the country." And Amal had to flee Beirut during the civil war and she ran to England. We have to do better. We have to stop this incredible fear that some guy who wants to kill us is going to go through the year-and-a-half or two-year process of immigration to be a terrorist, you know? I don't understand that. It doesn't make sense to me that people think that way. Your legacy is about immigrants and refugees. Amal and I are working on things now that matter to us on a whole other level, in a whole other world. If there's a legacy for me, it's yet to be written.
DG: I appreciate you taking the time and doing this.
GC: Well, I'll say it on the tape because I want it said: You're gonna be missed. You really are. Your voice and the magazine as it was through your voice has been exceptional. That is a legacy. They might not remember any of our names. But what they will remember is an era when there were great stories told, and there were great questions asked that a lot of places don't ask and don't do. So you'll land somewhere that you like, and all that stuff. But you do have a real legacy here, and you should be proud of that.
DG: I'll make sure to print that.
GC: I'm a big fan of loyalty. All this O.J. stuff is coming up right now because of the show [The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story]. When I look at loyalty, I look at Al Cowlings. And I think, I hope I'm that friend. Right? I hope I'm the kind of friend you can come up to and say, "Listen, they're saying I killed my wife. I didn't kill my wife. They're trying to railroad me. Just get in the car and drive." I like loyalty.
The Dossier: George Clooney
Date of birth: May 6, 1961
Which makes him: 54
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Which proved useful when: He sent the O Brother, Where Art Thou? script home to his uncle Jack, along with a tape recorder to capture his accent. Though he later learned that: Uncle Jack, a strict Baptist, had omitted all the damns and hells.
Other relatives of note: Aunt Rosemary Clooney, cabaret singer and actress; father Nick Clooney, talk-show host and news anchor.
First onscreen appearance: The Nick Clooney Show, at age 5.
Childhood aspiration: Baseball player
Not an unrealistic goal, considering: That he tried out for the Cincinnati Reds when he was 17.
But ended up: Studying broadcast journalism at Northern Kentucky University.
After dropping out of which he: Moved to California with money saved from cutting tobacco.
First film: Return to Horror High
As: Oliver, a wannabe actor.
Who: Dies in the first 15 minutes.
But not before a female character sneers: "Gonna be a star, Oliver?"
And he responds: "Gonna try."
To which she says: "Yeah, right."
To which we say: Yeah. Right.
Spouse: Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin), human-rights lawyer.
Of whom he has said: "Oftentimes, I feel like an idiot talking to my own wife."
Upcoming projects:Money Monster, a thriller costarring Julia Roberts; Suburbicon, a dark comedy written by the Coen brothers about a suburban home invasion gone wrong.
Shown to him in: The late 1990s
And resurrected when: "I called up the boys and said, 'Any interest?' And they're like, 'Let's go.'"
This article originally appears in the May 2016 issue of Esquire Magazine.
Here’s a familiar scenario: You finally bite the bullet and treat yourself to new handmade leather wallet you’ve been keeping tabs on. For a solid week or two, you keep your new leather wallet pristine andonly to slowly start to pack it with extraneous minutiae: Extra cards, loose change, paper scraps, ticket stubs, receipts, and other junk.
Not only can this completely stretch out the supple leather and suede, but it also can—as crazy as it sounds—create high levels unnecessary stress for you on a daily basis.
Overstuffed bags and wallets hinder you from finding what you need quickly, such as Metrocards (which can cause missed-trains), key cards to get into your office (resulting in being late), or that $5 bill to buy that coffee (which holds up lines, inherently creating stress.)
The good news: Organizing your wallet is way easier than you think. Read on for a 4-step guide to cutting unnecessary clutter right now.
1. Always utilize the bill holder.
Folding cash sticking it in card slots, or any other pocket creates a mess—there’s a reason why the bill pocket exists. Always make sure your bills are neatly inserted for easy access and exchange.
2. Do a card check.
Take out every card you’re carrying and lay them out on a table, and start to decide if you really need to be carrying every single card every single day. A good breakdown of what’s needed:
Imperative to have daily: Your driver’s license or some form of valid identification (use the plastic ID section if your wallet has one), your health insurance card, your debit/ATM card, the one credit card you use the most, and any card needed to get into your place of work. Organize the cards in pockets according to those you grab most often.
Not needed daily: Secondary or “emergency” credit cards, rewards/discount cards/gift cards (only carry these when you know you’re heading to the retailer), membership cards, library cards, business card you’ve been given, dental and vision insurance cards. Keep these things all together in a pouch at home, so you always know where they are.
3. Go through paper scraps
The biggest offender when it comes to messy, unorganized wallets are paper scraps, namely receipts. Of course, it’s inevitable that we’re going to stick receipts on our wallets, but it’s key that you go through and get rid of ones you don’t need weekly.
A good rule of thumb: Throw away receipts for inexpensive items that are already gone at the time of your wallet purge, such as lunch from yesterday, coffee, a pack of gum, or other everyday things. To avoid clutter from these types of scraps completely, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell the cashier that you don’t need a receipt for these items to begin with.
If you’re fastidious about budgeting, hang onto receipts for larger items such as big restaurant meals or bar tabs, fashion purchases, warranties, and household-related things, but keep them in a separate envelope that can easily be referenced. If you need to return an item, only then should you place the receipt into your leather wallet.
As for other paper scraps—jotted-down addresses, coupons, reminders, phone numbers, etc—throw away anything you won’t need again, as they’ll take up just as much pointless space in a drawer at home as they will in your wallet.
4. Think digitally.
In our digital world, it’s a given that apps exist strictly with the goal of keeping your leather wallet spic and span. Here are a few to try:
CardStar:A popular free app that allows you to cut wallet and keychain clutter by consolidating all your loyalty and rewards cards.
Google Wallet:Google’s aptly-named app allows you to send money to anyone in the US with an email address, as well as store your credit and debit cards, loyalty programs, offers, and more.
Now that you have a better idea on how to organize your leather wallet to keep it looking good and working well, don't hesitate to spend that extra money on a premium handmade leather wallet. At Avallone, we have a full selection of men's leather wallets that all come with Free Shipping and a Lifetime Warranty!
It's difficult to overstate Thom Browne's influence on modern menswear. That slim suit you love so much, with the trousers hemmed so they just barely graze the top of your shoes? That probably wouldn't exist without Browne, who ushered in a tailoring revolution about a decade-and-a-half ago with his cropped, close-to-the-body suits and jackets. And though he started out on a shoestring—due to budget constraints, his first "collection" was just five suits that he had made for himself—the New York-based designer is now one of the more powerful forces in men's fashion, as admired for his slightly subversive runway collections as he is for his classic approach to tailored clothing.
For spring and fall 2016, he's teamed up with Woolmark to create a capsule collection that falls on the latter end of that spectrum: traditional(ish) tailoring made from the company's lightweightCool Wool, which should have the suit-wearing public feeling pretty good about life when things heat up outside. We caught up with Browne to talk about how the partnership came together, what it feels like to be the man who helped launch the slim suiting trend, and why he hates fast fashion.
Esquire.com: You've teamed up with Woolmark in a bigger way for spring and fall 2016, but you've been working with them for a while. How did that relationship start?
Thom Browne: They're very supportive of young designers; that's how it initially started back in 2006 and 2007. The relationship has gone on for this long and will go on because of their attention to making beautiful fabrics. [The current collection] was very easy, because I use so much of their fabrics as-is. It wasn't something that I had to consciously really think about; we just positioned certain items and looks within our collection as special to Woolmark.
How did you decide on the specific pieces?
I wanted to make sure the items were iconic to my collection. Things that, when people saw them, were true to who I am as a designer. So staying more towards the classic pieces: a navy sport coat, a Prince of Wales suit.
Would you say they're seasonal pieces, or more year-round?
Definitely year-round—that's the way the world is now, and the way that you have to approach collections. There are so many collections per year. There are four that I do for men's: two pre-collections and two collections. The deliveries in stores sometimes don't match the seasons, so you have to design into almost a yearly season as opposed to a fall and spring season nowadays.
I actually wanted to ask you about that increased pace and having more collections now than we used to. You didn't do pre-collections in the early years.
No. I've been doing the pre-collections for about two years.
How does that kind of pace affect things? You see designers lamenting it, leaving big design houses—is this something that the industry can't sustain? Or do you like having more opportunities to explore your ideas?
I think everybody should approach it his or her own way. It is added work, and the schedule is relentless: It's basically a yearly schedule, and it's not like you get time off. You don't have to do pre-collections, but if you want to grow a business, you do have to approach it in a way that puts things in stores for the customers. So to have new product going into stores fairly regularly is important—not only for the customer, but also for the stores to have a little bit longer time to sell the product. I like it, but also my collections and pre-collections relate to each other. It's not like they're totally schizophrenic, and when they're both on the floor at the same time they do live together. Ultimately it's more of an opportunity to get your product in front of people. So I've embraced it and I know that it's worthwhile, but everyone has to approach it his or her own way.
Speaking of approaching things in your own way: You're known for a slim, cropped cut. When you first introduced that to the marketplace, a lot of people followed suit, and menswear in general has been slimmer and shorter for a while. But now it seems like things are shifting to be a little longer and looser. Do you look at that and think about changing your aesthetic?
I mean, this is me, and I will always do this. It was never a trend; it was always a timeless approach to how I like the proportion of the jacket and trousers. So this is always going to be what I give to my customer. Every season, of course, I do play with proportion within the collections themselves, but the classic way of how I approach my tailoring is always going to be the same.
What is it about that look that you find so compelling?
I just like the proportions. It's a personal thing to me and it's something that's timeless. The use of that proportion is more specific in how I wear it; but in the more classic things that I do, the proportion doesn't change—it's just not as severe as how I wear it. There is a more classic way of wearing it and I have a lot of customers who have it tailored for wearing it to work or an event. As long as the proportion doesn't change in regards to the lines of the jacket and trouser, there are a lot of ways to interpret it.
What does it feel like to be on the leading edge of something that becomes such a major trend? When you saw that shift in tailored clothing years ago, did you ever have a moment where you said, "Yeah, I caused that a little bit"?
It really comes down to it being nice to see that you're doing something that people recognize. I set out at the beginning to make sure that I did something that was somewhat important and that people did recognize, but it's not like I sat back and had a brand plan on changing the world of tailoring. It's something that I just wanted myself, and I knew that it was different from what other people were doing and what other people wanted. And when you do something that personal, I think there is a reason why people will at least look at it, and hopefully understand why you're doing it.
Did you ever find it difficult, when the market was saturated with those slimmer and shorter designs, to stand out in that landscape?
No. Because it was always mine.
Do you pay attention to the rest of the market or do you try to stay mostly in your own world when it comes to design?
I am the worst when it comes to knowing what's going on. And I consciously don't want to know what's going on, because I think it's a lot easier to stay true to yourself if you just do what you do and focus on that.
Where do you look for inspiration, if not in fashion?
Architecture, art, movies, real people, real things. I'm never really influenced by fashion.
For the fall 2016 collection, you said that the idea was reinterpreting the idea of a group of men at a gentleman's club. There's a lot of room for interpretation there, so how do you go from that idea to actual execution?
Well that's only a small bit of the story. The main story is these men in the '20s through the Depression into the '30s, and how they appreciated the clothing that they purchased and had made for themselves in the '20s. And how, through the Depression, their priorities shifted in terms of not being able to afford to buy new clothes—how they loved the clothes that they had, and really wore them and really appreciated them. And they were so beautifully made that they still could wear them, and the way that the clothes aged made them even more beautiful sometimes than when they were new. So the story is really more of the appreciation of really well-made clothes, not really that these guys are part of a gentleman's club; that's just where I placed them.
That feels very prescient in this day and age, especially considering the influence of fast fashion. Is that something you were thinking about specifically?
No, but I wish I did. [Laughs.] Because I can't stand the world of fast fashion. I wish people would spend money on more important things than the disposable clothing you get in those retailers.
When you say more important things, are you talking about better-made clothes? Experiences? A combination?
Experiences, better-made clothing, maybe contributing money to worthy charities—something that's a lot longer-lasting than a T-shirt that's going to disintegrate in a week.
These stylish timepieces will last you a lifetime.
You can slap a caramel-colored strap on most timepieces. But these are the ones—from sporty to sophisticated—that come with one in place, and are all available to buy online now. Get going, since they'll only get better with age.
With an off-white face and great numerical details, the Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph is far from your father's Timex.
We just received a stellar review on our leather goods from TGV founder of The Urban Gentry (http://www.theurbangentry.nyc/home.html). For those of you who do not know, The Urban Gentry is a lifestyle, horology, and a culture Youtube channel inspired by the loves and passions of its host TGV. Known affectionately by his closest fans as "The Governor", TGV was born in London, the son of a British aristocrat and an Italian doctor. He was raised in both countries and has traveled extensively to many exciting international cities. While studying in Florence, Italy, he fell in love with a New Yorker, and subsequently moved to New York City where he currently resides and works in music, film production and audio engineering.
TGV was so impressed with you our quality and style, that he wanted to share our products with his viewers!
Check it out below (FYI - Our segment starts at the 3 min. mark):
Before we get into what an RFID wallet is, it’s important you understand how RFID technology works. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This technology lets you simply wave your credit card, debit card, ID card, passport, or license in front of a nearby scanner instead of having to slide the magnetic strip through it. This scanner sends a signal that an antenna in the card receives and uses to activate the RFID chip. This all sounds great, but the problem is that criminals with minimal technical skills can construct their own RFID readers with a few simple supplies. These devices can steal your private information quickly and silently. All the criminal needs to do is come near your wallet with the card reader because RFID enabled credit cards don’t have an off switch.
If your card has PayWave, Blink, or PayPass, indicated by a radio wave signal or logo on the front or back of the card, then it has an RFID chip inside of it. Just beware that some cards can still have an RFID chip even if there is no logo on it.
An RFID wallet is equipped with a special lining that prevents your credit cards from receiving signals from any RFID scanner (particularly from criminals). By using an RFID wallet you can safely guard your information and credit cards from identity thieves who use RFID scanners to pick up your personal information. To find out if a wallet has RFID protection in it, you can ask the retailor or look in the description of the item. You can also look inside of the wallet at the lining. RFID lining usually has a shinier appearance to it and most commonly comes in shades of silver, gold, and red sheens.
Currently Avallone has RFID protection in the new Canvas & Leather Collection of men’s handmade wallets (we have also added it to our antique leather wallets). All of the pockets have a special silver lining (that is not visible from the exterior of the wallet) to protect all of your credit cards and ID cards from any stray RFID scanners.
Many people have purchased different leather goods throughout their lives, but when it comes to preserving, caring, or cleaning their quality leather goods, they don’t know where to start. A simple way to start caring for any handmade leather product is to use Saddle Soap. Saddle Soap cleans, softens, and preserves just about any type of leather, all in one shot.
For those who have never heard of Saddle Soap, it is a mixture that contains a fine soap to thoroughly clean away dirt and grime, even salt stains. Most Saddle Soaps are formulated with glycerin and lanolin to make leather soft and supple, with a quality wax for added protection. Saddle Soap is good for any quality leather product you may have in your house, just don’t use it on suede.
Follow these steps to get started cleaning your handmade leather goods:
Remove excess dirt with a stiff brush or damp cloth.
Open your Saddle Soap tin and rub the surface of the soap with a moist cloth to develop lather.
Rub the lather well into your leather product, and wipe off any excess lather with a damp cloth.
Repeat the procedure from steps 2 and 3 as necessary.
When the leather has dried, buff the leather product with a soft cloth to develop a nice luster.
Using saddle soap on your handmade leather goods is a great, easy way to care, clean, and preserve the leather. If you are unsure if it will mesh with any particular type of leather, test it on a small inconspicuous area to be sure. Saddle Soap can be found in most drug stores and supermarkets. So, if you need to restore the luster in any of your leather goods, keep an eye out for Kiwi or Fiebings Saddle Soap on your next shopping trip, as they are the most recommended brands that make it.
We often switch between leader and follower many times in a single day, and success in any job depends just as much on being a great follower as it does on being a great leader. Here are 10 ways to do just that:
Seize the Initiative: Today's leader desperately needs followers that bring fresh ideas not passive worker bees waiting to be told what to do.
Create their Own Job: When in a new job, identify quickly a quantifiable goal that you can achieve in a reasonably short amount of time. Then write up a plan for achieving that goal along with a weekly reporting process. Most importantly, present your plan before your boss asks for it. In this way, you will demonstrate that you can lead yourself.
Be Coachable: Always be ready to learn and grow from the leaders around you. It is important to demonstrate that you are coachable and are paying attention.
Anticipate Needs: One of the most humorous bits from the TV series M*A*S*H is Cpl. "Radar" O'Reilly consistently anticipating Col. Blake and later Col. Potter. They can barely open their mouths before Radar finishes their sentence by assuring them that whatever they are looking for is already done. Like Radar, great followers stay a step ahead of their boss by proactively asking: "If I were my boss what would I want next?"
Learn to be a Great Communicator: If your boss ever has to ask for a status report, you are failing as a follower. Great leaders are great worriers. Great followers preempt worry by proactively communicating in writing.
Be Goal Driven: Your boss is not paying you to "stay busy" or even to "work hard." He is paying you to strategically deliver on clearly defined goals that materially impact the mission. This is true no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.
Show Don't Tell: Human beings are wired to value action and discount verbiage, use this trait to your advantage.
Earn Trust: My number one goal upon taking a new job was getting my boss to relax. The sooner I earned his trust, the quicker he would spend his most valuable asset, time, worrying about something other than me. People who keep promises can be trusted. Those who don't cannot. Great followers keep promises. It is critical, especially early in your relationship with your boss, that you deliver on every commitment no matter how trivial.
Offer Solutions: Any damn fool can turn his problems into problems for his boss. Great followers solve problems. If they cannot they always offer their boss solutions along with the problem.
Be Compassionate: Often referred to as "managing your boss," great followers are sympathetic to the enormous pressure that leaders must endure. Great followers not only empathize but look for ways to reassure their boss that at least one person understands his pain and can be counted on to alleviate it.
As I hope you've noticed, many of the same traits I describe to great followers apply to great leaders. Great leaders not only acquire these traits as followers, but model them for their own subordinates. But most importantly their interchangeable nature makes my point: Just as the distinction between noble and serf is a thing of the past so are the distinctions between leaders and followers.
Occasionally, we find an answer to one of life's constant questions, and everybody pretty much loses it. Today's revelation has to do with jeans. Specifically that little pocket on them. You know, the one that doesn't really function as a pocket because it's so tiny, and which is actually located in a real pocket, but which nonetheless is technically a pocket in and of itself.
It seems some particularly curious forum users couldn't live in a world where that pocket's function remained unknown, so they have gone and discovered its use. The tiny little pocket inside a pocket is actually for watches, designed for cowboys in the 1800s. But since we are in 2016 and we are, for the most part, not cowboys, these pockets have taken on new uses.
As it says on the Levi Strauss website, "Originally included as protection for pocket watches, thus the name, this extra pouch has served many functions, evident in its many titles: frontier pocket, condom pocket, coin pocket, match pocket, and ticket pocket, to name a few."
We have been promising a new collection of men's handmade leather wallets, and we finally have the items in stock! The Avallone Canvas & Leather Collectionwas created for the working professional who love's leather, but who also wants a lower price point with color combinations not common in most everyday leather goods. Our Canvas & Leather Collection features two color combinations: Navy Blue & Brown, and Grey & Dark Grey/Black. Both color combinations offer a timeless yet unique appearance with a subtle air of sophistication. Additionally, every wallet in the Canvas & Leather Collection has a special lining with RFID protection in it. This ensures your private information stays private, away from the hands of identity thieves.
Take a look a look below for a quick preview of the men's handmade wallets in the Canvas & Leather Collection:
Although we are not sure how old this picture is, it has come to our attention that President Obama may be in dire need of a new handmade leather bag. You would think that a man in a position of such power would have maybe 10-20 new leather bags lined up at the Whitehouse as ready replacements. However, according to this picture, that is not the case. We couldn’t help but wonder what brand this current leather bag is, or why it’s so over-packed and worn looking.
Being the men’s handmade leather bag specialists that we are, we attempted to get in direct contact with Mr. President Obama to find out exactly what was going on. We tried to make contact via phone. We explained to person screening the call that we believed President Obama had an emergency situation on his hands, and was in dire need of our help. When asked what this emergency situation was, we referenced the picture of Obama with his worn out leather bag, and explained we were calling to offer an immediate solution to the problem. The person on the other end did not think this was very important and ended the call.
Then we thought maybe it would be better to send mail since, according to the Whitehouse.gov website, Obama reads 10 letters per day from the public. We put together one of the best letters our company has ever written, attached this picture as evidence, and sent if off. Guess what happened next… Nothing! No response or any indication that Obama even received our letter.
We were trying to think of what to do next when it dawned on us: Obama doesn’t have a new leather bag because no one can get through to him. So, it seems until the Whitehouse can get a better screening system for phone calls and emails, the president will continue to use a worn out/over-packed leather bag, unless anyone reading this article knows the President personally.
Do any of you know Mr. President Obama? If so, consider it your patriotic duty to ensure he gets in contact with us over here at Avallone (unless you voted for the other guy). Our handmade leather bags and accessories, complete with a lifetime warranty, will ensure he never gets embarrassed by a worn out/over-packed bag again.
We are now anouncing the release of a newly crafted men’s handmade leather goods line titled the “Canvas & Leather Collection”. The new Canvas & Leather Collection is made from distressed crazy horse leather and canvas with 2 color combinations that will be available, contains a warranty to protect the buyer from any defects, and will be suitable for any working professional or world traveler.
This new men’s handmade leather goods collection will consist of different styles of men’s wallets and bags, which are to be made in color combinations of Navy Blue Canvas with Brown Leather, and Light Grey Canvas with Dark Grey Leather. All of the men’s wallets and bags in the Canvas and Leather Collection will be handmade and equipped with a traditional Avallone Warranty to ensure a high quality product. Additionally, all of the mens wallets will have RFID protection. These new men’s handmade leather goods also feature simple designs and unique color options, not replicated by any other brands in the market, and are the perfect definition of style and class. The Canvas & Leather Collection is set to launch around late January or early February of 2016.
Check out some of the photos below for a quick preview of our new men's handmade leather goods collection:
men's Canvas & Leather Backpack in Navy Blue
men's Canvas & Leather Duffle in Grey
men's Canvas & Leather Small Weekender in Navy Blue
We have always associated champagne with two emotions: delight and regret. The delight, of course, comes the moment it appears, dancing in the glass. That delight, however, turns into bitter, pinching regret the next morning, there being no hangover quite so feral as a champagne hangover.
The challenge, then, is to maximize the delight without inviting the regret. For us, the solution is the magnum. A large bottle holding 1.5 liters, or two ordinary bottles, the magnum is big enough to be impressive without edging over into mayhem. Nonetheless, produce a chilled magnum of something nice and plant it on the coffee table in front of your friends and it changes the dynamic almost as much as if you had produced the other kind of Magnum, the Dirty-Harry-do-you-feel-lucky-punk one. (In this case, the answer is "Yes, I do.") Split two ways, it will fuel an unforgettable night (and make for a morning that is, if not out-and-out rocky, at least a little gravelly); three, it's a memorable toot; four, a fine beginning. Even split among six, it offers more than a token toast. But it's not just the number of glasses it contains that makes the magnum such an engine of delight, or even the reputation it has for producing a champagne that is, all things otherwise being equal, tastier than that from a smaller bottle. It's the promise it contains.
A single bottle of champagne goes quick, too damned quick. There may be more or there may not. Even if there's another bottle at hand, you'll wonder if they're going to open it or they'll wonder if you are. With a magnum, more isn't a plan or a contingency. It's a reality, right there in the bottle. You can drink your first glass, the one that opens the afferent pathways of the brain, secure in the knowledge that the second, the booster, will follow—and if the group is a small one, so will the third, the exhilarator, and perhaps the fourth, the one that makes your head feel like it's bobbing on a string. We find that awareness to be almost as effective at loosening us up as the champagne itself.
As for the champagne: If your friends are deeply geeky in the world of wines, you can pop a magnum of, say, Bruno Paillard Brut Première Cuvée or Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, confident that they'll be impressed. (For ordinary drinkers, though, it's safest to stick to the big, famous producers.) Part of the appeal of a magnum is the extravagance behind it; if it's going to work, people have to know that it's special. We've always been partial to Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, but we hope we'll never be so snobby as to turn down a glass or three of Moët or Mumm or Perrier-Jouët or their ilk. You don't break out a magnum of champagne to celebrate connoisseurship. You do it to celebrate the joy that comes from having friends to walk beside you on your crooked path through this world.
Published in Esquire By: DAVID WONDRICH. Photo Credit: Tim Graham
Just in time for the 2015 holiday season is our newly crafted Italian Leather Keychain. Until now, Avallone has only stocked men's handmade leather wallets, leather bags, and leather belts. Our new Italian Leather Keychain ($18) is handcrafted in Italian Napa Leather, features a polished silver steel key ring and rivet, and comes in a luxurious gift box and velvet pouch. The Italian Leather Keychain is stocked in 8 different color choices, some of which include yellow, red, blue, and green! Our simple design and unique color options, not replicated by any other brands in the market, are the perfect definitions of style and class.
Check out some of new pictures below:
These Italian leather keychains are an excellent edition to any gift for this holiday season, or even as something extra for yourself when buying a new leather bag or leather wallet for someone else.
With Christmas right around the corner, you might still be wondering what to get as gifts for some of the more special people in your life. Well you can look no further as all of us here at Avallone agree that the best gift you can get anyone for Christmas is a new handmade leather bag. Are we biased? Maybe a little, after all, we do make very nice men’s handmade leather bags, with a lifetime warranty I might add, but that’s not why we think they are the best gifts to give.
Here are 3 Non-Biased reasons why:
A Quality Leather Bag Will Last Them Years if not a Lifetime
If you’re buying a quality handmade leather bag, a bag that is made with quality construction and premium leather, it will last a very, very long time. It won’t just last for weeks or months, but years, maybe even the rest of their life if they take very good care of it.
They Will Remember You Every Time They Use It
Every time that person uses the handmade leather bag you gave them, they will remember that you gave it to them, and how happy you made them feel. This is especially true for a high quality, handmade leather bag. So, if you want that person to remember you for years, if not a lifetime, start shopping for their new Christmas present: A Handmade Leather Bag.
People Love to Receive Unique, High Quality Items
When is the last time you received a unique, high quality leather bag as a present? Personally, I have never received one, even before I started Avallone. I am willing to bet very few of you have received one as a gift. Most people receive clothing, gift certificates, and money. When someone gets something that stands out from the rest of their gifts, they feel important, happy, and very grateful towards that person who took the extra time and care to buy them something they may only get a few times, if not once in their life.
Now that you have 3 very big reasons to get that important person in your life a high quality, premium leather bag, get started shopping. Whether it’s your boss (maybe you want a promotion), a family member, best friend, or spouse, Avallone has a nice selection for you to start your online shopping with. All of our luxury leather bags are handmade, come with a lifetime warranty, and feature a unique blend of Italian leather and lamb suede that combine European style with modern function.
Before Bay Rum after shave was around, sailors passing through the West Indies in the 16th century would use bay leaves as a natural deodorant, and also as a relief for sunburn. They would simply rub the dry leaves on their body. The practice started to catch on, and this became the go-to solution for deodorant and skin relief.
Bay Leaves used for Bay Rum Aftershave
It was then later discovered that seeping the bay leaves in the sailors favorite drink, Rum, could extract the oils much more efficiently than just rubbing the dry leaves on their skin. The rum also added a new component to the smell, and sailors then began using the liquid as their cologne too.
At present day, alcohol is still used to extract the bay leaf oil, but is then distilled down to an essential oil. The Bay Rum you see in stores today is a combination of Bay leaf oil, alcohol, rum, and other ingredients that can vary depending on the manufacturer or brand.
Early Bay Leaf Distillation
We are now aware of many more benefits besides relief from sunburn and smelling great, which comes from Bay Rum.
Bay Rum has been used throughout the years to aid in hair growth. The ingredients found in bay rum stimulates the skin and scalp, producing more hair, resulting in a thicker beard, or a thicker head of hair if you use it as a head wash. Bay Rum is also helpful in hydrating and soothing your skin, especially after a shave.
More Vibrant Skin
Bay Rum is frequently used as an after-shave because the bay leaves help to de-stress your skin, thus preventing the occurrence of wrinkles and skin outbreaks. The oil of bay leaf also has pretty amazing healing powers, which is another reason it’s perfect for your skin in the winter months. In the past, it was used to relieve cuts and bruises. Bay leaf oil also has antifungal and anti-bacterial properties which can cure skin infections.
Bay Rum can also be an effective anti-depressant. The scent is so pleasant, even a small amount has been found to initially uplift the sense of well-being and can increase confidence levels. Sounds like a great scent for a new job or first date!
Now that you know the history of Bay Rum, you might want to try some out for yourself! At Avallone, we make a fantastic bay rum aftershave right here in Jersey City, NJ. The Bay Rum Aftershave contains a proprietary mixture that includes Bay Leaf Oil, All Spice Oil, Glycerin, Jamaican Rum, and Menthol. It’s perfect as an aftershave, cologne, or a tingling head wash. Our exclusive formula is also aged for 2 months after being bottled to give you a scent that’s subtle, yet strong enough to last the entire day.
So, you have finally bought that new handmade leather bag you’ve been saving for. Now the only question left in your mind is: How do I clean and take care of this luxury leather bag to keep it looking great?
The following are the 3 best ways to take care of any quality handmade leather bag.
How to Preserve the Leathers Quality
To preserve the leather quality of your handmade leather bag, try Pecard Leather Dressing. It’s best used on a new leather product to preserve it, and help prevent premature wear from stains. However, it can also be used on a product that you’ve previously used. Just keep in mind; it could take up to 1 week for the leather bag to absorb it depending on the thickness of its leather.
How to Clean a Stain
Many things can stain your new handmade leather bag including ketchup, sunblock, hairspray, or even water. There is also a distinction between water based stains and oil based stains. Water based stains such as ketchup, water, and the like can be treated at home.
For water-based stains, Avallone recommends using saddle soap. You’ll want to apply it as soon as possible after the stain has occurred. You should blot or wipe the product onto the stain. However, to be on the safe side, you may want to first test the product on a small area of the bag, because depending on the type of leather, it could cause its own stain.
For oil based stains such as paint, oil, or wax, we recommend going to a professional cleaning service. These stains are much harder to take out then water based stains, and you do not want to risk further damaging your new handmade leather bag.
How to Store Your Handmade Leather Bag When Not Being Used
When you’re not using your new handmade leather bag, you may want to put it somewhere safe. To correctly store any quality leather bag, the leather needs to be able to breath. If you’re new handmade leather bag did not come with a dust cover (all Avallone leather bags come with one), it’s best to use a pillow case. To best store the leather bag, gently fold it and place it in the dust cover or pillow case in a dark closet. Also avoid storing the item where temperatures can be extremely hot or cold, as this is also not good for the handmade leather bag.
If you’re reading this, but have not actually bought a new handmade leather bag yet, take a few minutes to browse the Avallone Luxury website. All of our men’s handmade leather bags come with Free Shipping and a Lifetime Warranty!
Maybe you don’t currently own a handmade leather wallet, or maybe you still use your duct tape wallet from high school. Whatever the case may be, we are willing to bet you have not bought a new leather wallet in a long time, perhaps too long.
The following are five reasons to act now and buy a new men’s handmade leather wallet to avoid further embarrassment among colleagues and friends:
1. The rubber band you use to hold your money and cards together just broke again.
2. The Tyvek wallet you bought at last year’s holiday market is still going strong, but you can’t stand the embarrassment when paying anymore.
3. It takes you 10 minutes to find your credit card because you don’t even carry a wallet.
4. Your gf/wife insists on paying when you’re out, but you don’t know why.
5. You're still using your old tattered leather wallet after it's beens caught in the wash for the 3rd time.
Number 4 may not appear to be too bad at first glance. However, we’re willing to bet that won’t last very long, and could even progress to a breakup or a troubled marriage. For those of you who are single, that could be your solution to getting past the first date.
If you currently don’t own a new handmade leather wallet, and you’re not ready to buy a new leather wallet after reading the above list, you most likely have much more serious issues to deal with, and we recommend seeing a doctor as your number 1 priority right now.
For those of you who are ready to buy a new men’s leather wallet, don’t hesitate to check out Avallone’s full selection of men’s handmade leather wallets on our website.
Sunglasses are an essential summer fashion accessory for both men and women to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and are recommended by healthcare professionals. However, just because they are good for the health of your eyes, doesn’t mean that sunglasses don’t have to look good and be fashionable – in fact, quite the opposite. We’ve put together a list of five of the best fashion forward sunglass brands.
Based in Foothill Ranch, California, Oakley is a brand which specialises mainly in sporting equipment, however it also manufactures some lifestyle accessories including sunglasses. Oakley’s sunglasses have been considered the best in the world, and have an attractive look and design as well as being manufactured by taking into consideration the tough conditions that many sportspeople face. Oakley provides luxury sunglasses that do not compromise on protection from the elements when you need it most.
Ray Ban is one of the most popular and well-known brand of sunglasses, and was founded in 1937 by American company Bausch & Lomb. Best known for their Aviator and Wayfarer styles of sunglasses, Ray Ban offers a wide range of specifications with respect to design, lenses, material and style. Thanks to high quality materials and a high standard of manufacturing, Ray Ban sunglasses are super durable. Ray Ban are often considered one of the more affordable brands of sunglasses, however they are also popular with a number of famous celebrities as well as the general public.
One of the best multinational sunglass brands for men and women, Fendi products can be easily distinguished thanks to the undoubted Italian style and grace. The Italian fashion house offers an esteemed collection of designer sunglass styles, which are popular with celebrities thanks to high sophistication and a luxury look and feel. The design of Fendi sunglasses aims to astound and mesmerise, and they are a high-end choice of accessory which are loved by many celebrities around the world.
Owned by French company Kering and headquartered in Florence, Italy, Gucci has several different product lines including fashion and leather goods, however its sunglasses have become one of the most popular and sought after sunglass brands in the world. This is thanks to the innovative and luxury designs that they offer along with a high standard of manufacture which makes the sunglasses long-lasting and durable.
Founded by Mario Prada in 1913 and based in Milan, Italy, Prada is another luxury Italian fashion house that quickly took the lead with its high esteemed collection of products which offer luxury and sophistication. Prada’s sunglasses are highly popular products with both men and women and can often be seen worn by a number of A-list celebrities, thanks to their exceptional and elegant design. For those who love to have fashionable products that feature both current trends and quality, Prada is a popular brand.
If you’re looking to bag yourself a pair of fashionable designer sunglasses, why not check out some of the amazing bargains at Red Hot Sunglasses.
Esquire fashion director Nick Sullivan explains how 007 pulls it all together.
At once modern and timeless, 007 is the personification of straightforward elegance, with no room for unnecessary details. He is simply Bond: cool under pressure, at home in any situation, and always the best-dressed man in the room.
Whether turned out in a shawl-collar tux at the baccarat tables or dressed down in tweeds, Bond accepts nothing but the very best. Everything fits perfectly into Bond's world; there's no room for the superfluous. His weapon is reliable, his Aston Martin is fast, his suit is impeccable, and his Belvedere martini is simple.
Bond doesn't demand attention; on the contrary, he eludes the public gaze. It's part of the job. But when the focus lands on him, every detail conveys vigor and resolve. The creases are sharp. The tailoring is precise. The cufflinks gleam in the dim light. He is the secret tower of strength in the room. And he's always in his element.
The modern man can take a cue from one of the most stylish icons in menswear: Keep it simple. Choose the classics, and have them cut to fit. We never see his tailor, but we know Bond must visit Savile Row. A double-breasted overcoat, a single-breasted two-button suit, a crisp shirt with a knitted silk tie, and cap-toe oxfords. Nothing flashy. Everything to its purpose. That's 007.
Have you ever felt embarrassed to take out your wallet when it came time to pay on a date or business lunch/dinner? If so, it could be because your wallet is 1 of these 4 things:
Old, tattered and worn out.
Overstuffed with outdated cards, receipts, and any other piece of paper you’ve managed to save.
Unprofessional looking & disorganized.
Lacking available funds whether in cash or bank balances.
Many people often overlook the fact that the way you treat your wallet, along with the money in your wallet, sends a direct message about what you’re saying about yourself. You may be a financial wiz, but if you don’t own a quality handmade leather wallet, or if you do own a professional leather wallet, but cannot keep it organized, you’re sending a bad message to others around you. We’ll also teach you how to save a few extra dollars, just from keeping your wallet more organized.
Here are 6 ways to get your wallet into shape:
Invest in a quality genuine leather wallet.
You can also get away with canvas, but make sure the canvas has some leather detailing on it. A handmade, genuine leather wallet shows professionalism, style, and class all in one package. You will never be embarrassed to take out your leather wallet again in public, if only for the fact that it looks so good. There are many different types out there, but we recommend our very own Executive Leather Bi-Fold in Black. On a side note, don’t obsess over buying “slim wallets”. If you don’t follow the next steps, even a slim wallet will become too fat to comfortably carry.
Now that you own a quality, genuine, handmade leather wallet, you will need to clean it out once a month, if not once a week. When cleaning out your wallet, review your receipts and then store them in an expense file until you have had time to return items, or check warranties if needed. We recommend purging that file every 3 months.
Carry Only the ID You Need
In order to increase space and reduce thickness in your handmade leather wallet, limit the identification cards you carry to your driver's license (or photo ID), health insurance and other medical cards, and car insurance card. Don’t forget to check if your car insurance cards will expire soon. If so, it’s an excellent reminder to shop around for better rates. Also, keep your Social Security card at home and memorize the number to avoid putting yourself at greater risk for identity theft if the leather wallet is lost or stolen.
Keep Cards to a Minimum
Our next piece of advice is to keep only a debit card and a maximum of two credit cards in your handmade leather wallet. Put the one top that has the best rewards points or interest rate. We also recommend getting rid of store credit cards. The annual percentage rate on retail cards is over 23 percent on average, compared to 10 percent for the average low rate card and 15 percent for the average cash-back or rewards card, according to a CreditCards.com analysis. If you carry a balance month-to-month, even a great introductory offer on a store card will likely not make up for the amount of extra interest you'll incur over time.
In this day and age of cashless purchases, there are some items or stores that still require cash. If you don't have it in your leather wallet, and go to an ATM that's outside of your network, you could pay as much as $2.50 or $3 for each transaction. Always keep some cash in a variety of bills in your wallet. To help keep your spending in check, give yourself a weekly allowance for cash or debit card purchases and stick to it.
Back It Up
Now that you've streamlined your genuine leather wallet, it's important to back it all up. Make copies of your credit and debit card information, driver's license and health insurance cards and keep them separate from your wallet. You can make paper copies to keep in a file for your personal finances. Or cut down on paper and take photos of your IDs and receipts that you want to keep and email them to an email address that you set up specifically for your finances. Create folders in your email to keep your information and expenses organized. When you have a good tracking system in place for what goes into and out of your wallet, you will save both money and time.
Oscar Wilde once said; “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
Then again, Oscar Wilde never worked in modern day corporate America, where many offices have a casual policy and some people get ostracized for wearing a tie, when no one else is. You might ask yourself, how is it possible to enhance my professional image without being politically incorrect in the office.
Since today’s professional culture is dominated by casual dress codes where many people no longer need to wear a suit or tie, many people carry unprofessional bags. In some cases, where employees are required to wear a suit or tie, you will still find many people carrying non-professional bags. Some of these bags can include college backpacks, bags made from synthetic materials like polyurethane, and even plastic bags from the local grocery store. However one easy way to maintain or enhance your professional image without the drama of wearing a tie in a “tie-less” work place, or simply improve the look of your suit in a business formal environment, is to carry a professional, high quality leather bag, to and from work, every day.
The effect of a quality, genuine leather bag on your professional image is priceless. It can be the difference between being the next one in line for a promotion or not. Taking the time to pick out a quality, handmade leather bag for work communicates to your coworkers and superiors that you are organized, mature, stylish, and professional, all quality characteristics of any business person. Just think, have you ever seen a Hollywood movie featuring an important business person carrying a plastic grocery bag to work every day?
Now that you see how important an investment in a handmade luxury leather bag is for work, you must make sure to find a high quality item with fine leather. If you do not, you will risk looking cheap, and may even detract from the overall look of your outfit. For more details on finding a good handmade leather bag, see our blog post on “How to Spot Fake Leather When Shopping”. The best thing about buying a quality handmade leather bag, is that you can get away with any style leather bag, and still look professional. As long as the bag is genuine, high quality leather, any duffle bag, briefcase, tote bag, or even backpack will work.
Some people don't like to buy real leather products because of their ethical or religious stance on using animal products, however for most people, real leather is always preferred over fake leather (or 'pleather' as it is also known), with fake leather usually chosen simply because it is cheaper or easier to find in a given color or style than the real deal.
Leather has been used for centuries and across a wide range of cultures, because it has some great qualities that other materials just don't offer. While we have the technology to create the classic look of leather synthetically, when it comes to giving it all of real leather's other qualities, we just aren't there yet. Here are some of the advantages of real leather over 'faux' leather or pleather:
It Is Extremely Tough
Whether you want something to cover a sofa your cat is going to scratch on a daily basis, something to protect your laptop on your commute to work, or even more importantly, something to keep your insides on the inside of you if you are in a motorcycle accident, you can rely on leather. Bikers have always known this, and that's why even though there are now all kinds of next gen textiles designed to give them armor, many of the most popular products on biking attires sites like motochanic.com, as well as those worn by professional riders, are still made of good old leather.
It Ages Well
Leather does stretch, get creases in it, fade and texturize as it ages – and that just makes it look better. Your comfortable leather boots that have molded themselves to your body, your vintage leather purse or wallet that has the markings of years of use but shows no signs of falling apart, an aged leather chair – these things look if anything more beautiful than when they were brand new. Fake leather just rips, tears and fades like any other fabric, looking broken rather than aged. Buying furniture, clothes or accessories in real leather is an investment because you can have all the years of use you want out of it without looking shabby.
Leather is a natural material that lets your skin breathe when you wear it, rather than trapping sweat inside. This is why real leather shoes feel much better than other synthetic materials, and why you feel far less sweaty and nasty in a real leather coat than in a fake one.
Last but certainly not least, there is the beautiful smell of leather, which is on almost everybody's list of favorite aromas! Leather's distinctive smell is comforting, and also conveys a sense of luxury, for example in a new car or an upscale furniture showroom. It has even been replicated and included as a note in designer fragrances by houses like Bulgari!
Josh Ozersky was hungry. He looked like a man who could put it away. And put it away he did, for his own satisfaction, sure. But also for yours.
Because Josh Ozersky lived to chow and tell. He was hungry for whiskey and argument (always a good pairing); hungry for validation of his work, which he received but probably distrusted (writers are like that); hungry for camaraderie and song. And, of course, just plain hungry, for the new-school and the old, the salty and fatty, the crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle—especially if it once possessed four hooves and a tail. But deeper than his need to ingest great cooking was his hunger to share his discoveries and to soak in the pleasure of affirmation from his audience. In that sense, Josh possessed a drive like that of great chefs, equal parts generosity and need for applause—not just for praise but also for surety that the rest of us tasted his discoveries and understood.
Josh chose most of the restaurants herein and devoured as many of their delights as he could, just in time to exhaust the Best New Restaurants travel budget, but not in time, sadly, to write the stories. Every death is untimely, but Josh's was especially so, happening as it did when he was just forty-seven in the early hours of May 4, 2015, the very day he was supposed to cheer on his favorite chefs at the James Beard Awards in Chicago. So a team of Esquire pros and great new voices from all over the country, including Beard Award winners John Birdsall and John DeVore, picked up the fork and finished the job.
No tribute could be more fitting, because we are as blown away by these restaurants and the cultural shifts they represent as Josh was. There is something of a New Food Order emerging—the rules, like the complexion of the country itself, are changing.
The restaurant of the year, Shaya, serves Israeli cuisine—in, of all places, New Orleans. And if you doubt that pita and tabbouleh could merit such an accolade, consider that their elevation comes at the hand of a chef, Alon Shaya, who has cooked for NoLa revolutionary John Besh since his first of (now) twelve restaurants began transforming that former time-capsule culture of Commander's Palace and Brennan's. And if that's not enough, imagine sinking your teeth into a pomegranate-lacquered lamb shank, blackened and glistening from hours at the roast.
There is a restaurant that basically serves only birds. A restaurant on a bleak block in Harlem that no sooner saw success than it was shut down by a ridiculous rent increase. Yet somehow it managed to reopen ten months later, bringing its beacon to a different careworn stretch of the city.
In more restaurants than ever, Latin Americans are not just rocking the line but also running the show, with confidence and style. Witness Ray Garcia: I went to his L.A. joint Broken Spanish in its ninth week, before it even had a sign out front. He takes familiar flavors and formats from the Mexican playbook and brilliantly interweaves them with surprises like black garlic and foie-gras butter.
Perhaps most important is that after a decade of tatt-sleeved male chefs whose primary concern was building empires rather than flavors, we are entering a new era of collaboration and cooperation that focuses more on cooking and less on big-swinging solo-artist brand development. Chefs who use the pronoun we when describing their creative process, like husband-and-wife chef-owners Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza, of the Progress in San Francisco. These are craftspeople with their chests unpuffed and their heads down over their pots, developing loyal teams of homegrown cooks just as surely as they develop killer dishes—and upending the bro culture of the American kitchen.
If only Josh could have seen this through. The last memory anybody seems to have of him belongs to John Currence, a friend and the chef at City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. Having decamped from the Beards' annual Chefs' Night Out cocktail party in search of Jim Beam, the two, along with Charleston chef-kings Jason Stanhope and Mike Lata, found their way to a basement karaoke dive. "Nobody was singing, so Josh just started devouring the microphone and dragging people onstage." Among the selections: the duet "Islands in the Stream," with Stanhope. "It was really one of the most joyful things to watch."
Because for food, for whiskey, for one more song, Josh Ozersky was hungry. You're hungry. I'm hungry. Let's eat.
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The short answer is yes; as long as it’s not your old college backpack, or something that looks like it should be taken on a camping trip.
I don't think these are the looks you're going for.
When I worked on Wall Street, I would take the path train from Jersey City into NYC every day. Along the way I would look at the different types of bags men carried to and from work. This was actually where I first started getting inspired to create a men’s leather goods collection. As I observed the daily bags men carried, I noticed a few things. First, many of the bags men used were over-done with too many pockets and straps that just didn’t look right unless you were going camping. Second, many of the men going to work were still using what looked like their old college backpack similar to Jansport or Eastpack bags. A lot of the men who used these backpacks actually wore them with a professional business suit. Third, the people who put in some extra effort and carried a quality leather bag, looked a lot more professional and well-put together. Someone you might think worked in upper-management, if not due for a promotion anytime soon.
That's a bit more like it!
This brings me back to my original point. Please do carry a backpack or leather shoulder bag of your choice to work, but make sure you invest in a quality, professional leather bag. When wearing a professional business suit, the worst thing you can do is pair that with something that makes you look like a student. I know many of you may not wear a suit to work every day, but that is no excuse to continue using what appears to be a student backpack for a professional job in the city. A professional leather backpack or leather bag will not only help to improve your appearance, but it will show your superiors and co-workers that you take work seriously. Just think, have you ever seen the CEO roll into work with a Jansport on their back?
As I stated before, many of my daily train observances helped me create styles that keep the working professional looking professional, as well as stylish. So, Avallone’s solution to the college backpack conundrum is our Antique Leather Backpack. It’s handmade with 9 stitches per inch, features a unique combination of leather and suede, and comes with a Lifetime Warranty. It’s something even the CEO would wear. Check it out below, or click here to view it on our website!
At 8:48 on the morning of September 11, Michael Wright was a thirty-year-old account executive working high in the World Trade Center. Two hours later, he was something else. The story of his escape is the fastest 3,863 words you will ever read.
Originally published in the January 2002 issue of Esquire
Up to that day, I'd had a Brady Bunch, cookie-cutter, beautiful life. I now know what it's like to have a 110-story building that's been hit by a 767 come down on my head. For better or for worse, it's part of my life. There are things I never thought I'd know that I now know.
It was as mundane a morning as you can imagine. Tuesdays are usually the days I go out to see clients and make sales calls. I get to my office at a quarter to eight, eat a bran muffin, drink a cup of coffee, and get my head straight for the day.
I was actually in a good mood. A couple of us were yukking it up in the men's room. We'd just started sharing the eighty-first floor of 1 World Trade Center with Bank of America, and they'd put up a sign telling everyone to keep the bathroom clean. "Look at this," one of us said. "They move in and now they're giving us shit." It was about quarter to nine.
All of a sudden, there was the shift of an earthquake. People ask, "Did you hear a boom?" No. The way I can best describe it is that every joint in the building jolted. You ever been in a big old house when a gust of wind comes through and you hear all the posts creak? Picture that creaking being not a matter of inches but of feet. We all got knocked off balance. One guy burst out of a stall buttoning up his pants, saying, "What the fuck?" The flex caused the marble walls in the bathroom to crack.
You're thinking, Gas main. It was so percussive, so close. I opened the bathroom door, looked outside, and saw fire.
There was screaming. One of my coworkers, Alicia, was trapped in the women's room next door. The doorjamb had folded in on itself and sealed the door shut. This guy Art and another guy started kicking the shit out of the door, and they finally got her out.
There was a huge crack in the floor of the hallway that was about half a football field long, and the elevator bank by my office was completely blown out. If I'd walked over, I could've looked all the way down. Chunks of material that had been part of the wall were in flames all over the floor. Smoke was everywhere.
I knew where the stairs were because a couple of guys from my office used to smoke butts there. I started screaming, "Out! Out! Out!" The managers were trying to keep people calm and orderly, and here I was screaming, "The stairs! The stairs!"
We got to the stairwell, and people were in various states. Some were in shock; some were crying. We started filing down in two rows, fire-drill style. I'd left my cell phone at my desk, but my coworkers had theirs. I tried my wife twenty times but couldn't get through. Jenny had gone up to Boston with her mother and grandmother and was staying with my family. Our son was with her. Ben's six months old. It was impossible to reach them.
The thing that kept us calm on the stairs was the thought that what happened couldn't possibly happen. The building could not come down. After a while, as we made our way down, we started to lighten up. Yeah, we knew something bad had happened, but a fire doesn't worry you as much when you're thirty floors below it. I even made an off-color joke to my buddy Ryan. The intent was for only Ryan to hear, but things quieted down just as I said it, so everyone heard. I said, "Ryan, hold me."
He said, "Mike...I didn't know."
I said, "Well, we're all going to die, might as well tell you."
Some people were laughing, but not the guy in front of me. "I really think you should keep that humor down!" he said. I felt lousy. In hindsight, he may have known more than I did. Even though I'd seen physical damage, what I can't stress enough is how naive I was at that point.
Some floors we'd cruise down; others we'd wait for ten minutes. People were speculating, "Was it a bomb?" But we were all getting out. I didn't think I was going to die.
At the fortieth floor, we started coming in contact with firemen. They were saying, "C'mon, down you go! Don't worry, it's safe below." Most of them were stone-faced. Looking back, there were some frightened firemen.
When we got below the thirtieth floor, they started to bring down injured people from flights above. There was a guy with the back of his shirt burned off, a little burn on his shoulder. One woman had severe burns on her face.
We got down to the twentieth floor and a fireman said, "Does anyone know CPR?" I'm no longer certified, but I know it from college. That was ten years ago. You wouldn't want me on an EMT team, but if it comes down to saving somebody, I know how.
So me and this other guy volunteer. We helped this one heavy, older man who came down huffing and puffing, and we kept our eyes out for anyone else. "Do you need help? Do you need help?" Nobody needed help. The stairway became wide-open. It was time to go. The other guy took off in front of me. We were going pretty fast.
Have you ever been to the World Trade Center? There's a mezzanine level, then you go downstairs, which is subterranean, into this big mall. Our stairwell exited out onto that mezzanine level. At that point, I could look out across the plaza at 2 World Trade Center. That's when I realized the gravity of what had happened. I saw dead bodies everywhere, and none that I saw were intact. It was hard to tell how many. Fifty maybe? I scanned for a second and then focused on the head of a young woman with some meat on it. I remember my hand coming up in front of my face to block the sight. Then I took off. As I ran, people were coming out of another stairwell. I stopped and said, "Don't look outside! Don't look outside!" The windows were stained with blood. Someone who'd jumped had fallen very close to the building.
It felt like my head was going to blow up.
I made it to the stairwell and got down. The mall was in bad shape. It must have been from chunks of the plane coming down. Windows were smashed. Sprinklers were on.
I saw Alicia, the coworker who'd been trapped in the bathroom. She'd seen what I'd seen in the plaza and was traumatized. She was crying and moving slowly. I put my arm around her. Then there was another woman — same thing. I put my arm around the two of them, saying, "C'mon. We gotta go. We gotta go."
We were moving through the mall toward the escalator that would take us back up to street level and out to Church Street. There were some emergency workers giving us the "head this way" sign. I think they were trying to get us as far away from the fire as possible and out toward Church Street and the Millenium Hilton hotel.
I got to the bottom of the escalator, and that's when I heard what sounded like a crack. That was the beginning of it. I ran to the top of the escalator as fast as I could and looked east, out toward Church Street at the Millenium hotel. The windows of the hotel are like a mirror, and in the reflection I saw Tower Two coming down.
How do you describe the sound of a 110-story building coming down directly above you? It sounded like what it was: a deafening tidal wave of building material coming down on my head. It appeared to be falling on the street directly where I was headed.
I turned to run back into the building. It was the instinctual thing to do. You're thinking, If you stay outside, you're running into it. If you go inside, it might not land there. So I turned and ran into the building, down into the mall, and that's when it hit. I dove to the ground, screaming at the top of my lungs, "Oh, no! Oh, no! Jenny and Ben! Jenny and Ben!" It wasn't a very creative response, but it was the only thing I could say. I was gonna die.
The explosion was extreme, the noise impossible to describe. I started crying. It's hard for me to imagine now that when I was on the ground awaiting my doom, hearing that noise, thousands of people were dying. That noise is a noise thousands of people heard when they died.
When it hit, everything went instantly black. You know how a little kid packs a pail of sand at the beach? That's what it was like in my mouth, my nose, my ears, my eyes — everything packed with debris. I spat it out. I puked, mostly out of horror. I felt myself: Am I intact? Can I move? I was all there. There was moaning. People were hurt and crying all around me.
Then I had my second reckoning with death. I'm alive, yeah. But I'm trapped beneath whatever fell on top of me and this place is filled with smoke and dust. This is how I'm gonna die — and this was worse. Because I was going to be cognizant of my death. I was going to be trapped in a hole and it was going to fill with smoke and they were going to find me like one of those guys buried in Pompeii.
I sat there thinking of my wife and son again. It wasn't like seeing the photos of Jenny and Ben that I had on my desk, though. The images I had were of them without me. Images of knowing that I'd never touch them again. As I sat there, thinking of them, I suddenly got this presence of mind: I gotta try to survive.
I tore off my shirt and wrapped it around my mouth and nose to keep some of the smoke out. I started crawling. It was absolutely pitch-black. I had no idea where I was crawling to, but I had to keep trying. It's haunting to think about it now.
I saw a light go on. I can't say I was happy, because I was horrified, but that light was hope.
Luckily, I was buried with a fireman. I got over to him and stuck to this guy like a sticky burr on a bear's ass. He was frazzled, but he had it a lot more together than I did. I was like, "What are we gonna do?" You can't imagine the ability to have rational thought at that point. I was purely in survival mode. It wasn't like, The smoke is traveling this way, so I'll go that way to the fresh air. It's whatever presents itself.
The fireman looked like a big Irish guy. Big, bushy mustache. He had an axe. He was looking at a wall, and it looked solid, but when he wiped his hand on it, it was glass, a glass wall looking into a Borders bookstore. There was a door right next to it. He smashed the door and it spread open.
Everyone gravitated to the light. Now there was a bunch of us. People were screaming. We got into Borders, went upstairs, and got through the doors heading outside. The dust was so thick, there was barely any light.
At this point, I still had no idea what was going on. I didn't know if we were being bombed or what. I didn't know if this was over or if it was just beginning.
I took off into the cloud. I crossed Church Street, and some light started coming in, and I could see a little bit. I saw a woman standing there, horrified, crying, lost. I stopped and said, "Are you okay? Are you okay?" She couldn't speak. I kept going.
I went along Vesey Street, using it as a guide. It started clearing up more and more, and I got to an intersection that was completely empty. That's where I saw one of the weirdest things — a cameraman near a van with the NBC peacock on it, doubled over with his camera, crying.
I was all disoriented. I saw a turned-over bagel cart, and I grabbed a couple of Snapples. I used one to rinse out my mouth and wash my face. I drank some of the other. Then I started running again. It was chaos.
Even though I'd been around these streets a million times, I was completely lost. I looked up and saw my building, 1 World Trade Center, in flames. I looked for the other tower because I always use the two buildings as my North Star. I couldn't see it. I stood there thinking, It doesn't make sense. At that angle, it was apparent how devastating it all was. I looked up and said, "Hundreds of people died today." I was trying to come to terms with it — to intellectualize it. My wife's family is Jewish, and her grandparents talk about the Holocaust and the ability of humans to be cruel and kill one another. This is a part of a pattern of human behavior, I told myself. And I just happen to be very close to this one.
Maybe it seems an odd reaction in hindsight. But I was just trying to grab on to something, some sort of logic or justification, rather than let it all overwhelm me. I was raised Irish-Catholic, and I consider myself a spiritual person. I did thank God for getting me out of there for my kid. But I also tend to be a pretty logical thinker. I'm alive because I managed to find a space that had enough support structure that it didn't collapse on me. I'm alive because the psycho in the plane decided to hit at this angle as opposed to that angle. I'm alive because I went down this stairwell instead of that stairwell. I can say that now. But at that moment, I was just trying to give myself some sanity.
I was still running when I heard another huge sound. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the other tower — my tower — coming down. A cop on the street saw me and said, "Buddy, are you okay?" It was obvious that he was spooked by looking at me. Aside from being caked with dust, I had blood all over me that wasn't mine. He was trying to help, but I could tell he was shocked by what he was seeing.
I was looking for a pay phone to call my wife, but every one I passed was packed. My wife never entertained for a minute that I could be alive. She had turned on the TV and said, "Eighty-first floor. Both buildings collapsed. There's not a prayer." It was difficult for her to look at Ben because she was having all these feelings. "Should I be grateful that I have him? Is he going to be a reminder of Mike every time I look at him?" At the time, these thoughts just go through your head.
Finally, I got to a pay phone where there was a woman just kind of looking up. I shoved her out of the way. I guess it was kind of harsh, but I had to get in touch with my family. I dialed Boston and a recording said, "Six dollars and twenty-five cents, please." So I pulled out a quarter and called my brother at NYU. I got his voice mail. "I'm alive! I'm alive! Call Jenny! Let everyone know I'm alive!" It was 10:34.
I started running toward where my brother Chris worked at NYU. I'm the last of six in my family. The two oldest are girls, the four youngest, boys. Chris is the second oldest above me. The classic older brother. The one who'd put you down and give you noogies. He probably would have had the best view of the whole thing going on. But he'd left his office, thinking, My brother is dead. He walked home to Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge, unable to look back.
On my way to NYU, I met this guy — a stranger named Gary — who had a cell phone. He tried and tried and couldn't get through to Boston. I said, "I gotta get to NYU" and left him. But he kept calling Boston and eventually got through to my family. At that point, four of my five siblings were at the house. My wife's father was on his way from New York with a black suit in the car.
The people at NYU took me in. They were great. I said, "I don't need anything. Just call my family." They kept on trying to get through. They couldn't, they couldn't. Finally, they got through.
I said, "Jenny, it's me." And there was a moan. It was this voice I'd never heard before in my life. And I was saying, "I'm alive. I'm alive. I love you. I love you. I love you." We cried and cried. Then the phone went dead.
At that point, I went into the bathroom to clean myself off, and suddenly I couldn't open my eyes anymore. They were swollen. I knew I wasn't blind, but if I opened my eyes toward any amount of light there was intense, intense pain. I didn't feel this while I was running. It seemed to happen as soon as I was safe and the adrenaline came out of me.
At the NYU health center, the doctors said, "Yeah, your eyes are scratched to shit." They put drops in them, but they needed more sophisticated equipment to see what was going on. I wound up having 147 fiberglass splinters taken out of my eyes.
Chris came back from Brooklyn to pick me up, and I held on to him and hugged him. Later, he said, "You know, Michael, this is why I stuffed you in sleeping bags and beat on you all those years as a kid. Just to toughen you up for something like this."
When we got back to my place, I collapsed and it all hit me. I cried like I've never cried in my life. I finally let loose, and it felt better. My brother helped me pack, and we got to Westchester, where my wife and family had gone. Jenny came running to the door. I can remember hearing the dum, dum, dum, dum, dum of her footsteps.
My mother was there. My dad. My father-in-law. They all hugged me. Then they gave me my son. I could tell by the noises he was making that he was happy. I hugged him and sort of started the healing process there.
Later, I went to Maine to sit by the ocean for a few days and get my head together. I saw all of my old friends. It was amazing. Everyone I know in my life has called me to tell me they love me. It's like having your funeral without having to die.
For a while right after, I wondered,
How the hell am I going to work again? How am I going to give a damn about selling someone a T-1 line? I had a list of people who were going to be my business for the next year, hundreds of people, all on my desk -- blown up. For the life of me, I can't dredge up those names. That will cost me a quarter of my income, maybe more. You know what? Who cares? I'm alive and I'm here. A big deal has gone to big deal.
I lost a friend in 2 World Trade Center. He was one of those guys you liked as soon as you met him. Howard Boulton. Beautiful person. His baby was born three months ahead of mine. He was on the eighty-fourth floor and I was on the eighty-first. The last conversation he had with his wife was by telephone. He told her, "Something happened to 1 World Trade Center. It's very bad. I don't think Michael Wright is okay. I'm coming home." I like to think Howard wasn't scared like I wasn't scared in the stairwell. I like to think that he heard a rumble like I heard a rumble and then he was gone.
I went to his funeral. To see his wife and his baby — it would have made you sad even if you didn't know him. But it was much more loaded for me. Here was a perfect reflection of what could've been.
One of the hardest things I had to deal with up to this point — and still do — is that my brother Brian, who's one year older than me, has cancer. He and I are practically twins. He has germ-cell cancer in his chest. He recently told me that the good news is they can go in and get it. But the bad news is they might have to take a lung with it. Before September 11, maybe the fact that he was going to lose a lung might have thrown me for a loop. But I found out I love my brother for my brother. I don't love him to run up mountains at a brisk pace with me. My reaction was: Thank God they can get it.
Luckily, I've been well equipped to deal with this. I have a family that's unbelievably close and supportive and a lot of friends. I've been to therapy, and I can do the whole checklist: Do you have a sense of fear and not know where it's coming from? Yup. Can you no longer take pleasure in things you once took pleasure in? Yup. Claustrophobic? Yup. I have nightmares. I jump when I hear a siren. But it's the smell that haunts me. Talk to anyone who was within ten blocks of it and they'll tell you that. I had vaporized people packed up my nose, in my mouth and ears. For weeks, I was picking stuff out of my ears.
I've been giving myself the space to be a little freaky for a while. I don't think this is going to turn me into Rambo or motivate me to go out and sleep with nineteen-year-old girls. Yeah, it's gonna bug me for a while. I'm gonna have some scars on my brain. But I don't think it's going to affect me long term.
I don't wonder, Why me? Some people say, "You made it out; you're destined for great things." Great, I tell them. I made it out, now why not put a little pressure on me while you're at it.
I was a priest, standing at the bar of the Billy Goat Tavern beneath the great concrete decks that brace up downtown Chicago. Strike that. I was not a priest. I shouldn't say that. I was me, me wearing the uniform of a priest. It was 10:30 on a Friday morning, the bar a well-lit temple of Formica. I was visiting my favorite bartender, as is my wont when I am in Chicago. Priest or no: My uniform was an old-school liturgical cassock. Twenty buttons rising to a traditional clerical collar. Part tunic, part Nehru jacket, with a big open flare at my feet. That thing really kicked up in the wind when I walked the city. The thing really had some sweep.
When I walked in, my friend immediately set me up with a no-disrespect-intended pour of bourbon, with a draft beer back. My shoulders were turned to the half-full restaurant; a small circle of recent acquaintances screened me. I'd like to say I was mindful of being the most visible man in the room—me, the priest—but who was I kidding? People had been staring at me for twenty-three blocks. One hour in the uniform and I knew this much: On a bright summer's day, in a sprawling city, a priest in a cassock is a thing to behold. People draw out their eye contact with a priest. They give nods or bow just a smidge. Or they stare. Openly. Respectfully. Distantly. When walking in pairs, men wind up their cheeriest selves to blurt out suddenly, "Good morning, Father." A habit learned in high school, revisited gladly. Twenty-three blocks and the world could not take its eyes off me. A priest, striding north.
And so, in a what-the-hell moment, I lifted the glass, nodded to Jeff the barkeep, and took that long good swallow. Only as I put the glass back in its ringlet of condensation did I notice a woman who'd maneuvered herself to some pass-through window, filming the whole thing on her phone. "You're going to be on the Internet before you eat lunch," said the barfly to my left without looking up, adding, "Father."
I picked up the beer, took a sip, and told him, "I'm not a priest." He turned, narrowed his eyes, gave me a lazy up-and-down. "What is this, then?" he said. He meant the frock.
"It's a uniform," I said. That was true. This was always my plan. Be honest. And that seemed to be enough, because he went back to his box scores. A couple minutes later, he said, "One thing's for certain, some priest, somewhere, is going to get in trouble for that."
I have no uniform. Most of the time, I work alone or in conversations across tables in some restaurant in some unfamiliar city. At my most exposed, I stand in front of a classroom of twenty-one-year-olds. Unless you count a track jacket, a T-shirt, and a pair of overly expensive jeans as a uniform, I have no dress requirements. Sometimes I wear a blazer. I have a really nice blue shirt when I want to wear one. My choice.
This is a ho-hum freedom, earned in some societal shift located broadly in one or another populist surge last century. People see it as a kind of liberation. We are individuals, after all. We are not automatons or drones. We are not our work. And so on.
But a great many people put on a uniform for work every day. I'll admit that I've often longed to wear a uniform, one that demanded something from me and maybe from the world around me. A good uniform represents. It makes sure you show up. It suggests a simplicity of mission. Once you slip it on, any uniform calls for its own posture. Everyone reacts. They step aside, shoot knowing glances, make room for you; or they turn away, try to forget their foggy prejudices, and ignore you.
So I bought four uniforms, modified them using the advice of people who wear them for real, and wore each one for a full day to test the reaction. A priest, a security guard, a mechanic, and a doctor. I stitched my name on—first, last, or both when appropriate. But I didn't forge a thing. No fake lanyards, no ID cards, no crucifix, no rosary in hand. The idea wasn't to trick people. I wasn't pulling a con or even acting very much. I wasn't trying to get anything: no free entry, no cuts to the front of the line, no undue respect. I issued no false blessings, gave no advice, made no diagnoses.
Tom Chiarella as a Priest
I bought my priest outfit at a religious-wardrobe store just west of Canaryville on the South Side of Chicago. At first I tried on clerical shirts, all black, with the familiar collar. Both long-sleeved and short. I wanted to look like the Jesuit priests who'd taught me how to write. All business with the comings and goings, a little tired, utterly content to forget the annoyance of deciding what to wear every morning.
The salesclerk was a former Dominican priest. There is fashion among the priests, he said. It's rare for an American priest to wear a cassock outside the church. But, he said, it's becoming more common: "It used to be considered a little vain. But you go to the seminary now and young priests insist on the cassock. They're more conservative and they want to be seen as committed."
He thought I could pass. "Just look like you're going somewhere on church business."
At that, the third-generation owner of the store stepped out of her office to tell me that she disagreed. "No priest would wear that in public."
"Just tell them you're Greek," the salesclerk said. "You look Greek enough."
Generally, when you wear a uniform, no one will touch you. Except the priest. People will touch a priest. On the wrist mostly. It happened to me twelve times, just a tap in the middle of a conversation. An assertion of connection, an acknowledgment of some commonality I could not fathom. Weirdly, the priest's outfit was the most physically demanding uniform to wear. All day with the hugging, and the kneeling to speak to children, and the leaning in for the selfies.
I suppose it is sacrilegious to say this—though I'm obviously way past caring about that now—but sweeping the city with the hem of my cassock hither and yon was more like being a beautiful woman than it was representing myself as a celibate guy who lives in a two-room apartment in Hyde Park. I'm telling you: People lingered in their gaze, without lust. I was a fascination, looked at fondly so many times that fondness itself seemed the currency of the world to me. It made me like the world better.
In front of a diner, an old woman seized my wrist firmly and pulled me in for a question. Oh, boy, I thought. Serious business. I prepared to deliver the news that it was just a uniform. "Father," she said earnestly. "Are you Greek Orthodox?" I told her I was not. The truth is easy enough when you're in uniform. Before I could say anything, she released my arm, scowled, and cast me off. "You are Russian! Ugh!" She turned and shouted to me from twenty paces, held up a finger like the curse it surely was. "You are Russian. Russian!" she said, rolling the R as she retreated. "Russian!" she shouted up the street.
No one asked my name. No one called me Father Tom. But that's what the uniform made me. People want to believe.
Especially people in need. All day long, I was faced with homeless men, homeless families, crouched in the street. Sometimes they reached up to me, touched my wrist. Twice I was asked for a blessing that I could not give. Not in the way they wanted. I started wishing that I were capable of performing a service for the world. And I found I could not do nothing. The uniform comes with some responsibility; otherwise, it is just a party costume. I started kneeling down, holding out a ten-dollar bill, and saying, "I'm not a priest. But I feel you." And I couldn't do it once without doing it a couple dozen times. Chicago is a big city, with a lot of souls stuck in its doorways. It still makes me sadder than I could have imagined.
It's easy to put on a cassock. And it's really not easy to wear one at all.
Late that afternoon, I stood across from the Tribune building as Father Tom and watched a loud and lousy sleight-of-hand magician working a trick involving a signed twenty-dollar bill and a lemon. I stood off to the side, hands clasped behind my back, trying to look ponderously unthreatened by magic. And then I saw the magician's move very clearly, the very moment he jams the rolled-up twenty into the lemon. Just like that. Busted. For a moment, I thought it might be the mind-set of a priest taking over. Or maybe he wanted the priest to see, because he winked at me a second later. And suddenly, for the rest of his routine, he called on me, to bear him out, to provide faith, to witness the machinations. Questions like "That seems honest enough—right, Father?" And could I back him up on this? The request to weigh in as the conscience of the moment really wore on me. Finally, I turned and walked away. "Father," he called out. "Don't leave. Only you know the truth! You're the most trusted man here!" Too much subtext. Exhausted, Father Tom walked to a food cart, bought a tamale, and waved to a tour bus that honked at him. They waved back, too. Both decks.
Tom Chiarella as a Security Guard
If it's true that everyone likes to look at a priest, then let me tell you that no one likes to look at a security guard. Especially not a geeked-up security enthusiast like Tom Chiarella, Security Officer. Not even other security guards. There is no brotherhood of the law among guys who mostly watch a crowd and ask people not to sit on the stairs in front of a museum. People avert their eyes, stare at the horizon.
When I told my friend, a longtime cop, that I was going to be wearing the uniform of a security guard and asked if he'd help me think out ways to make it look more authentic, he had a question: "Are you gonna be one of those happy guys? Or are you going to be, I don't know, that other kind?" At the time, we were going through containers of defunct equipment in a police-department storeroom, looking for spare parts. I wanted Tom Chiarella, Security Officer, to care about the details.
"In my experience, some security guys put on the uniform and it makes them," my friend said, "and then they have a certain way they carry themselves. You've seen it. It's a military posture. They stand up into the job. They get squared up. The uniform squares them up. They look so happy. Happy guys. And there is the other kind. They get into the very same outfit and the whole thing looks permanently sloppy, and they can't do anything about it. Not ever. The first guy, he listens. He's the one I'd use. The other kind, you look right at them and you know they might as well work at Taco Bell."
Tom Chiarella, Security Officer, was the first kind. The happy guy. Not ebulliently happy, but happy inside the obligation of the uniform. I stayed quiet, hid behind a pair of dark glasses, carried many things on my belt: handcuffs, a 2400-lumen flashlight, a pair of plastic gloves for evidence collection, a radio and a corded handset, a completely redundant earpiece, a can of Mace, a notepad and a penholder. So many leather pouches. My friend had warned me to match them up carefully. If one pouch was braided leather, they all had to be. "It matters," he'd said. "If you don't match up, people will start to wonder. You'll see. People look at you. In a way, even as a security guard, you are the law. You need to have it together. People do a check down on you. They check out your stuff. You don't have a gun. So they'll look even harder at what you do have."
"I'm just security," I said. "Not police."
"Law," my friend said. "They represent the law. That's what they teach them. You represent. You can't say you're a cop. But you can look like the law matters."
I could represent. So I paid to emblazon every surface of the uniform I set up—jacket, hat, shirt, badge—with the word Security. I bought and had fitted my first-ever pair of double-knit pants. I tucked in, buckled up, and made an orderly appearance.
On the campus of DePaul University, people asked if I was with the university. Near a hospital, I was asked? if I worked for the clinic or the theater across the street. I told the truth. Neither. Nothing more. Somehow people accepted the nothingness of my answers as if they were answer enough. No one ever followed up. The uniform made me feel terse. Not tense. Terse. Abbreviated. Interfacing with the world, as Tom Chiarella, Security Officer, liked to call it, was an occasional occupational obligation.
I just went places. Breakfast joints. Yawning retail spaces. It was the same everywhere I went—people treated me like part of the background. I stood for forty-five minutes in an Anthropologie store in a mall in the Loop, my arms folded across my chest, hips swaying, sunglasses on. No one talked to me, so I drifted into a way of thinking that I associated with the uniform. I watched my six. I kept my head on a swivel. I checked flanking positions, though I really wasn't certain what that meant. Not one clerk or salesperson asked me if I needed help. Why would they? The posture and the uniform asserted that I belonged. Belonged to the mall. I didn't have to speak in my job, so I was not spoken to.
At one point, I hitched my belt and went out to look for a restroom. A janitor was mopping when I got there. I told him I could wait. He didn't even seem to hear me. He spoke to me as if we saw each other daily. "It's slow today," he said. I looked around, nodded. Then he said, "Yesterday, with the rain … "
"… Things were slow," I said, thinking I was agreeing with him. He looked at me then like he'd been stung by a bee.
"No. Yesterday was crazy in here, remember?" he said. "The rain drives them inside, right?"
"I wasn't here," I said. Again, the truth. The day before, I'd walked as Father Tom.
"Yeah," he said. "You were off yesterday. I didn't see you at all yesterday." Then he waved me through to the urinals. He had zip-up overalls, name stitched on the pocket.
I returned to Anthropologie, to my self-claimed post near the rack of semitropical cotton blouses, again not drawing a glance. Soon I got restless. It was a big getup. A lot of work to put together, and to wear. The sight of me drew no reaction. I could have done an eight-hour shift without comment from the world around me or the women who worked there. The security officer fit only in the background. Sometimes the uniform simply fits the place so well that people who should know better don't give you any thought at all. On the street, amid the hubbub, the priest occupied the foreground. People wanted something from him. The security guard? Backgrounded. He and his uniform became just another furnishing. Nobody wanted anything from Tom Chiarella, Security Officer. Except directions. People get turned around in that city.
I bought a vintage patch on eBay—it read JOHNNY ANTONELLI TIRE CO. INC., an out-of-business tire retailer from my childhood in Rochester, New York. I affixed it to the left side of a blue zip-up jumpsuit I'd purchased at a tractor-supply store and had my name stitched on the other side. I put it on and walked. So I was a tire guy, Tom, who worked at a shop so small that most people assumed they'd never heard of it.
And though it's not fair to any tire guy anywhere … no one cared. The uniform didn't register. I never got so much as eye contact, except from a student nurse sitting at a table at an Italian grocery on Randolph Street. I was waiting in line. "Is that a Wall Street Journal?" she asked, referring to the hotel newspaper that I'd folded up and stuck in my back pocket like a racing form. It felt like she was picking on me.
Only anachronisms got even a vague reaction. I hailed a cab with a torque wrench, walked blocks dangling a Twix bar from my fingers, carried a half-dozen roses, sat on a city bus reading 50 Poems by e. e. cummings. It started to feel like I was jumping up and down, asking to be seen. No one saw me. I gave up and went to a movie.
Tom Chiarella as a Doctor
Finally, I became a doctor. I bought a pair of scrubs, got them fitted, and had my name stitched on yet again, this time over a logo that read DEPAUW UNIVERSITY, the name of the Indiana college where I am a faculty member. I knew that with a quick glance most people would mistake it for DePaul.
Since basically everyone wears scrubs at a hospital—nurse, orderly, X-ray technician—I had to find a way to convey that I was a doctor. I tried a lab coat, even put my name on it, but I could see that made me look more lab tech than cardiologist. I needed something better, so I sat in a hospital beforehand and watched the foot traffic of doctors and med students. The doctors moved with a chronic urgency. And they unfailingly stared into their phones and tablets distractedly, or carried clipboards or stopped to flip pages rapidly. They seemed to spend significant time looking into the guts of a problem, blocking out the world around them, a perceptible purpose and direction to every step. Slow or fast, the doctors seemed to be moving from one situation to another by social contract.
I started with that. Walking, north. But I walked fast and stopped only to look into my phone or flip pages on my clipboard. I looked up the street anxiously. I pictured the destination dimly to the north and manufactured a problem that demanded I get there now. I wanted people to think: This guy doesn't even have time to hail a cab. Somebody needs him.
He's got to be a doctor.
And, you know, the world gives way to a doctor. People step aside, cabbies wave you through intersections. Before long I started to really sweat, ducked into a restaurant to pick up a little AC action. Almost as soon as I was inside, the urgency subsided. This would not stand. So as the hostess approached, I held up my finger. "Hold on one second," I said, and then I stared into my phone, perhaps at some test results that had just come in. I decided to just stare, to see how long the routine could last. Minutes passed. Eventually I pretended to scroll down, using two fingers rather than one on the touch screen. I thought this was a nice touch, rife with verisimilitude. When the hostess approached again, I interrupted her and took a shallow half step back. "Just one sec," I said without looking up, knowing full well that I risked being the rude doctor now.
But she said, "Of course, of course. We just wanted to know: Do you need a glass of water?" She didn't even consider me a customer anymore. I was just a doctor who needed a place to work.
I went to the next block, stepped into a sporting-goods store, and did it again. Asked for forbearance and a little space, looked into a problem. Then a bank, a waxing salon, a shoe warehouse, a veterinary clinic. People made room. Room for responsibility. A little space to help. They offered me a seat. When people asked me where I was headed, I just hooked a thumb over my shoulder, to the north—true!—and then looked back into my phone.
Sometimes they even knew where I was headed. Right through the haze of my vagaries. "I know. The breast clinic. On Diversey, right? You need to be closer to the lake!" And I'd thank them. They offered to get me an Uber. Or a bottle of water. I didn't feel like a liar, or a lying doctor. I felt like they were seeing into a doctor's life and I was seeing into the city.
In a dank basement bar called the Manhole, where they were playing thumping dubstep at 4:30 in the afternoon in preparation for a lube-wrestling event, I breezed past the bouncer and asked the shirtless, leather-pantsed bartender for half a beer. "Because," I said, distractedly indicating the scrubs, the life, the predicament implied. Then I hooked the thumb northward. "Well, you know …" And he really did know. Half a beer. Cold, too.
Past Wrigley Field, at an empty skating rink, the janitor offered me his phone when he saw mine die. "You shouldn't be without a phone," he said. At a mattress warehouse, I was offered a seat on the closest bed to the door. Five minutes I sat there before I took a deep breath and leaned back. I actually lay down. I was exhausted. Then I popped up and apologized. "Perfectly okay," the salesman said. "Happens all the time. As you might imagine." He paused. "Well, not with a doctor. That's never happened before." Bam. He said doctor.
The world wants to help a doctor. The uniform conveys a responsibility that people are willing to share. They took little bits from the priest, and ignored the security guard, and didn't bother to see the mechanic, but they gave to the doctor. Ceaselessly and for many city blocks.
The only time I really wore a uniform to work was when I was twenty-four and waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant called Cucos, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I dreaded the idea of wearing a uniform then. And that uniform—such as it was—consisted of a blue knit polo shirt and an apron that I picked up every night off a hook in a broom closet. No logo, no stitched-on name. The manager, a redhead whose name I can't remember, pulled the shirt from a cabinet in her office, threw it to me, and said, "This is the best I can do right now." The shirt was tiny, two sizes short of what I needed. I told her it wouldn't fit. Then she looked from the shirt in my hands to my face and said, "So leave it on the desk. I'll give it to the next person who walks in here looking for a job." I huffed some lame apology, but she stated again, "This is all I have for you."
Just then I didn't matter one bit. I'd never done a damn thing for her and still she had handed me a uniform. A job. So yes, the shirt mattered more than the man. I understood the deal.
That week, I pulled that miserable shirt over my frame like a tube sock four times before I banked enough tips to pay the day-shift bartender twenty bucks for his spare blue shirt. He was a big guy, two sizes larger than me. And so it was that I came to have two uniforms for work. Impossibly small and implausibly big. Every day I had to choose: pantyhose or circus tent.
I quickly learned that no one else noticed. No snickers, no comments. The blue shirt was all that mattered. Me—my body, my corporeal self—I didn't register one bit, so long as I refilled the chips and delivered the 'ritas while the glasses were still icy. I just had to do my job. The blue shirt was me. Me in that job.
You might find this depersonalizing. Not so. The blue shirt meant I owed the world only what the job demanded, and only for those few hours. I came to relish disappearing into the hectic mechanics of work, into a routine of expectation and ritualized tasks. It turned out I could forget myself for a few hours. I was soon named employee of the month. Twice.
The uniform meant something. And when I left through the same doors into the darkling lot, freed from the grip of Cucos, the uniform suddenly and absolutely meant nothing at all. I took it off in the crook made by the door of my pickup and drove home shirtless. I see now that the uniform itself was liberating. Had I never had it in the first place or shaken it off when I had to, I may never have sensed the power of work and the confining limits of a lousy job.
In Chicago, on the night before I was to walk the streets as a priest, I went to a theater fundraising event at Chicago's Soho House. I'd been invited as Tom Chiarella. I attended as Father Tom, the priest. These were my first hours in the cassock. And there, during the fundraising part of the event, two pretty women exposed me.
"You're not a priest," the younger one said. So right out of the gate I was caught, the only time in the four days it happened.
I told them the truth. Then I asked how they knew. "There are a million things," one said. "You have a tattoo on your wrist. Your hair is a bit too long."
"And look at the way you occupy space," said the other. "You get in too close!"
They stared at me as I shifted on my feet. "There are just ways a man of the cloth will stand when he's in the company of women," said the woman who first spoke. "You are simply not standing in that way. You're too close. And you aren't aware of your hips. You're angled wrong."
They went on. No crucifix. I'd sat on a barstool—that would never happen. The cassock was a problem for them. They had never seen one outside the church.
I knew that was a risk. I told them as much. "Besides, it's a tricky thing to wear in public. There are no pockets," I said. "I have to hitch the whole thing up to get to my wallet." I bent a little and started to demonstrate the issue, how I would have to hike up this giant skirt to retrieve five bucks for the valet. Both of them waved me off. "It looks kind of pervy, right?" I said. I asked them if they knew how a priest would have dealt with it.
Neither of them did. "There are some things only a priest would know," one of them said.
They thought I must be an actor. I told them no. Eventually I asked about their faith, since they seemed to know a priest when they saw one. And when they didn't.
They told me, too. I just listened. It seemed like what was called for.
I recently came in contact with a US Federal Agent who works for the Department of Homeland Security. Based on his experience, I would have to say he is more like a James Bond on steroids. Previous to his job as an under cover US Federal Agent, he spent time as a soldier in the United States Special Operations Forces completing under cover missions in Afghanistan. He is well versed in self defense tactics including hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting, and currently travels around the world weekly doing, well, he just couldn't say.
So, when I asked him if he could provide information on travel safety from the perspective of a federal agent, he obliged on the condition he remain anonymous. Written below are what he deems essential practices everyone should be doing when they travel, part of which starts before you even leave the house.
-Christopher Avallon, Founder & CEO
The threat to the traveling public has greatly increased since the attacks of 9/11. It is more important than ever to have security precautions be a part of your travel plans. I have been traveling around the world in this new terror environment as both a Soldier and an Agent for the Department of Homeland Security. I would like to share some precautions that I take and that I think travelers might find helpful.
Security for a trip starts before you leave the door. When conducting domestic travel, you should always do a Google search of current events about the destination you are traveling to. This past week marks the one-year anniversary of Ferguson. It would not be a good idea to land in St. Louis for a business trip, only to find the city under a State of Emergency. For international travel more than a Google search is required. You should also look at the Department of State website http://www.state.gov. On the site you will find travel advisories and immunization recommendations. Another reference that is very helpful, if you are traveling outside of Europe is the CIA World Fact Book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/. This reference will provide you with basic infrastructure, political, and economic information. These sites will not only help you to identify any security threats, they will also provide you with information that will help you navigate around your destination that can not be found in travel guides. One last thing you should check is whether or not your cell phone will work where you are traveling. If you are traveling to Europe having a working cell phone is not a necessity from a security standpoint, but traveling anywhere else around the world your cell phone can be a lifeline.
After your research is complete your next security consideration should be the airport. During my years in Federal Law Enforcement I have spent a lot of time in airports. Most domestic and international airports have top-notch security. But the greatest assets these places have are the traveling public. If you see something that looks out of the ordinary say something to an airport employee. Your most dangerous time at the airport is when you are checking in and leaving the airport. The reason is that the arrival and departure gates have the most exposure to a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosives. These areas of most airports also have tremendous amounts of glass. It is my advice to travel through them as quickly as possible. When exiting the airport only use taxis or buses from the designated taxi and bus stands. If you get in a taxi that is not at a stand you put yourself in great danger. These are the drivers that will take advantage of travelers and in the best-case scenario you might be brought to the wrong place, in the worst-case scenario you could find yourself robbed or abducted.
Part of your research should also cover the hotel you are staying at. Check reviews to see if anyone left any comments related to safety or room security. When checking in never take a ground floor. These are the easiest rooms to break into. It is best to try and get a room between the second and fourth floor. That way if there is a fire you will have an easy escape. After checking into your room always ensure that all the locks work and you close the peep whole or put something over it. I travel with a door jam http://www.amazon.com/Wedge--Ultimate-Door-Stop-Green/dp/B00070FXDC/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1439525189&sr=8-8&keywords=door+jam that I stick under the door to pin it shut. When traveling to Asia I will also reposition furniture in front of the door while sleeping. Over the past few years, Asian countries have seen an increase in attacks on tourists. Any hardening you do of your room makes you a harder target. Most hotel rooms have a safe and I recommend using them, but keep in mind that hotel staff have access to your safe at all times. If you are carrying something sensitive in nature, you will want to keep it on you. I would not recommend leaving passports and credit cards in hotel safes unless you are staying at a very reputable hotel that is part of a major chain.
When leaving a hotel you should never walk out of the door looking at your phone, especially if it is an iPhone. If you leave a hotel or a restaurant looking down at a screen you will miss the criminal who is looking at you. This action shows the sign of an easy mark. You don’t know where you are going and you are not paying attention to your surroundings. Apple products have become very popular in the US and around the world. Keep in mind while you are traveling, that when you pull an Apple product out bad people are watching you. Your screen will distract you and carrying an Apple product makes you a target. Also when I am on international travel I do not walk around with a wallet. I keep credit cards, cash, and my passport in my front pockets or a back pocket if it has a button or zipper. This gives a thief less to take and makes it more of a challenge. The other precaution you need to take when traveling is staying away from large groups of people or demonstrations. People have a natural tendency to want to walk towards large groups to see what is going on. It only takes a second for a gathering to turn into a riot and you could be caught in the middle of it. If you see a large gathering move in the opposite direction.
If you are a frequent traveler there are two last things I would like you to consider.They are self-defense and first aid training. Everyone who travels at some point should take some basic self-defense classes and have a plan of what they would do if someone tried to rob or assault them. It is to late to think about these things when a knife is being pointed at you or you find someone in your hotel room. You should also know some basic first aid. I am not talking about CPR; you should know how to stop bleeding. Everywhere I go I carry a tourniquet http://www.amazon.com/Military-Issue-Combat-Application-Tourniquet/dp/B003EGD8YC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439526077&sr=8-1&keywords=tourniquet. These devices save lives. Our world has changed; not only while traveling, but going to the movies or church you could find yourself the victim of a gunshot or bomb blast. Having a tourniquet and knowing how to use it will save your life.
While most people will never have any security issues while traveling it is a good idea to plan for one. I hope you find information I provided helpful. Following the suggestions I have provided will increase your chances of having a safe and enjoyable trip.
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It’s finally vacation time! August is the peak vacation month in both the USA and Europe, and many people will be visiting foreign cities. As a traveler, the last thing you want to experience is being pickpocketed. Luckily there are a few ways to safeguard yourself against such a situation.
The following is a list of 5 easy ways to stop a pickpocket:
Wear a money belt! This should be a mandatory item on everyone’s packing list. Most money belts are very slim, have zipper closures, and can fit your passport, credit cards, and cash without any visible evidence that you are wearing one. A good example is this slim money belt by LL Bean. For a money belt to be effective, you must wear it under your clothing; preferably around your stomach region underneath your shirt. I recommend using a money belt to carry extra cash, a spare credit card, and your passport, as you should not access it in public. It’s best to go into a stall in a restroom to take out the extra items when needed.
Bring a Small Front Pocket Wallet. When I am not travelling, I usually carry cards and cash in my bi-fold wallet, and keep it in my back pocket. This is a huge no-no when traveling in foreign cities. Your back pocket is one of the easiest places for a pickpocket to steal your wallet. Instead, bring a small supplemental wallet that you can transfer some credit cards and cash into when you arrive at your hotel room (The Avallone Slim Card Carrier, Money Clip, or Front Pocket Wallet work perfectly in this scenario). Keep your regular wallet in the hotel room safe, and put your small front pocket wallet in your front pocket for easy access while shopping. If you get into a crowded area or an uncomfortable situation put your hand in your pocket and hold your wallet in a casual, non-obvious way.
Don’t take anything valuable with you that you can’t keep in your money belt or your front pocket with your wallet. Most native residents can spot a foreign traveler very easily, especially if they are targeting someone for a robbery. A foreign traveler wearing a shoulder bag, or backpack while touring a city for the day becomes a target. While I was in Naples, Italy (a city with a very high pickpocket rate), I wore my money belt, and carried a front pocket wallet with my digital camera, in my front right pocket. If I felt like I was in a situation where I could be pickpocketed, I just put my right hand in my pocket and held my valuables (just like Daniel Craig below).
When in non-crowded situations, don’t let strangers get too close to you. When pickpockets operate, they try to get very close in order to gain access to your pockets. They do this by edging closer and closer to you, so that they are less than an arm’s length in distance from your body. If you notice someone invading your personal space like this, whether in a line or on the street, move away immediately. Don’t try to ignore it and chalk it up to local culture, as they are most likely trying to rob you. If you are also following the previous advice regarding the money belt and front pocket hand trick, they will not be able to pickpocket you, should you not notice they are getting too close to you.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes and ears open for anything suspicious or unusual, and trust your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right. This applies not just to pickpockets, but to your general safety and wellbeing while travelling. Also keep in mind that most criminals will stalk the person they intend to harm first. If you notice someone following you, get help immediately from the nearest public venue such as a restaurant, store, or if you’re lucky, a police man or police station. Do not, under any circumstances, continue walking into an uncrowded area or back alley.
As long as you follow these guidelines while traveling, you can feel confident that you will not be a target of the common pickpocket or thief. Enjoy your vacation and stay safe!
Should you need anything for your next trip, don't forget to checkout our online leather goods shop below.
As you know we have already published a set of product videos for our complete line of handmade leather wallets for men. Now we are starting to publish these same types of videos for our mens handmade leather bags. These product videos are intended to help everyone make a better buying decision while shopping for a new handmade leather bag. Each video contains a general desciption of the handmade leather bag, along with product features, and an up-close personal view of the leather, interior, and exterior areas on each leather bag.
So far we have published 3 new videos for the products in our mens handmade leather bags category. You can find each video on our product details page for each leather bag. However, to save you the time from browsing our website, we included the videos below.
Whether you are flying internationally or domestically, there are no such things as universal carry-on regulations for leather bags when it comes to airlines. Since many travelers love to show off their new designer leather bags when flying, the best thing to do before you even pack your bag is to check with the airline regarding their carry-on regulations.
If you are currently buying a handmade leather bag or carry-on bag, or already own a quality leather bag that you like to use, but you have not booked your flight or planned your trip, don’t sweat. We did some research and found some recommendations and best practices that are accepted by the majority of airlines.
For those of you traveling within the USA, the IATA, International Air Transport Association, publishes the following information on the recommended practices agreed on by the Airlines for taking aboard a leather bags or luggage:
"Carry-on baggage must be stowed in the aircraft cabin which limits baggage to a size, weight and shape to fit under a passenger seat or in a storage compartment. Cabin baggage should have maximum length of 22" (56 cm), width of 18" (45 cm) and depth of 10" (25 cm). These dimensions include wheels, handles, side pockets, etc. Baggage allowed onboard may vary from one to two pieces per passenger. Check with your airline as to what is allowed."
For international travel, the most-recommended size for carry-on leather bags or luggage is 20”. The total measurements for a 20” leather bag should add up to less than 45 linear inches or 115 cm (length + width + depth), which fits the regulations for most airline companies. There may be different carry-on leather bag recommendations for commuter aircraft and regional jets, but following this advice will put you in-line with most major airlines like United Airlines and British Airways.
International Travel to the USA
There were new security protocols introduced in 2010 that are, for the most part, no longer in affect regarding carry-on luggage and leather bags. To avoid confusion, we referenced the current British Airways carry-on-policy for this article, as it is pretty typical for most major airlines internationally traveling to the USA.
"Following the recent introduction of revised security requirements for all customers travelling into the USA, British Airways is clarifying its hand baggage policy for customers travelling INTO the USA, including those who are transferring onto flights to the USA.
Customers travelling in our World Traveller and World Traveller Plus economy cabins to the USA from Heathrow and Gatwick will continue to take only ONE item of hand luggage.
Customers travelling in our Club World and First cabin to the USA from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City are now able to take the normal two bag hand luggage allowance.
All customers are advised to check-in as normal. Customers travelling to destinations outside the United States or from the United States are not affected."
So, now that you know the general guidelines that most major airlines follow in regards to taking aboard leather travel bags or carry-on luggage, you should have no problem shopping for a new handmade leather bag, or making sure your favorite carry-on bag is suitable to use on your next trip.
If you do happen to be shopping for a new handmade leather travel bag don’t hesitate to check out our very own handmade leather bags on the Avallone Luxury website.
We decided to take advantage of the nice weather in Jersey City this week and take some photos of our handmade leather bags from the Antique Leather Collection. Currently the Antique Leather Collection contains 3 styles of men’s handmade leather bags. Below you can see photos of our Antique Leather Weekender Bag, Antique Leather Briefcase, and the Antique Leather Backpack.
Each handmade leather bag in this collection is made with antique vegetable tanned cowhide that develops different shades of brown as the leather ages. We further complimented the look and color contrast by making each leather bag with tan lamb suede edging. As you know, all of these handmade leather bags are made with 9 stitches per inch, and come with a Lifetime Warranty & Free Shipping.
Check out some of the photos below:
This is our Antique Weekender Handmade Leather Bag shot on the waterfront in Downtown Jersey City, right across the river from New York City.
Thanks for taking a look at some of our photos from the shoot. To browse all of our handmade leather bags just Click this Link. Remember for the month of July we are giving out a Free Executive Bi-Fold in Black with a purchase of any of our handmade leather bags.
Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to pack your bags and go on a vacation! No matter your destination, you can’t take a trip without the proper luggage to carry your belongings. Whether you’re taking a short vacation (less than 1 week), or a long vacation, you will most likely always be bringing with you a men’s leather bag of some sort. In this post, we are going to focus on our best luxury leather bags, and how they can help improve any trip you take this summer!
Our first men’s leather bag recommendation is our Antique Luxury Leather Backpack. This leather backpack is one of our best handmade leather bags because of its versatility, unique style, and excellent durability. It’s handmade in vegetable tanned cowhide that gets better with age, and contains lamb suede detailing for added style. This handmade leather backpack makes a great carry-on (its 12 inches long x 16 inches high x 7 inches wide), and can also be used to carry your belongings when touring your destination.
Our next luxury leather bag recommendation is our Antique Leather Weekender Bag. If you are shopping for luxury leather bags, and have not bought one yet, this is the luxury leather bag to get! This leather weekender bag is handmade in vegetable tanned cowhide & lamb suede that develops an excellent patina the more you use it. Avoid taking two bags as it’s over-sized for a week-long stay or a weekend, if you’re a heavy packer.
Special Features Include:
Zipper Lock & Key for Extra Security
Detachable & Adjustable Leather Strap
Extra Size – 23 inch Length x 14 Inch Height x 12 Inch Width
Our final luxury leather bag recommendation is our handmade Italian leather duffle bag; IE the 1st Class Traveler Duffle Bag. Most men’s leather bags in the market place do not compare to the style and quality of this men’s leather duffle bag. This handmade leather bag is made in Italian Napa Leather & Lamb Suede, and contains a Lamb Suede lining. It’s the perfect carry-on size & weekender size (21.4 inch Length x 11.7 Inch Height x 9.4 Inch Width). This luxury leather bag also comes in brown or black.
Now that you have an idea of how one of our men’s handmade leather bags can improve your next trip, don’t hesitate to try one out. Each bag comes with a Lifetime Warranty, Free Shipping, and a 30 Day Return Policy!
There are many different men's leather belts in the market place today. In order to give you an easier time shopping for a quality leather belt, we put together this quick guide to buying & wearing mens leather belts.
Correctly Wearing & Matching Your Leather Belt
Correctly wearing a leather belt shows a sense of sophistication and great style. Incorrectly wearing a leather belt will give off the impression of bad style and disorganization. As a good rule of thumb, always match leather when dressing up. In other words, if you are wearing shiny black leather shoes you need a shiny black leather belt to go along with them. When dressing up, this goes for all colors and materials, ie; brown suede belt with brown suede shoes, croc leather belt with croc shoes, etc. Always matching the color and material will go a long way in showing great personal style.
Your exception to this rule is when dressing in a very casual situation. In a case where you are wearing non-leather casual shoes, you can get away with mixing and matching your belts. However, we strongly suggest sticking with canvas or cloth belts in that scenario. When wearing casual leather shoes such as boat shoes, or something similar to them, you can alternate between a suede belt or a leather belt as long as the color of the belt matches the color of the shoes. For example, we have a D-Ring Tan Suede Belt in our mens leather belts section on our website. This belt matches perfectly with a pair of tan leather boat shoes from Sperry Top Sider.
When shopping for a leather belt, you also need to consider the belt length. Dress leather belts should have a little extra leather to reach through the first belt loop once the belt is fully fastened. Always try to stay on the shorter side when deciding. When wearing a leather belt that is casual, you have more leniency with a longer tail. Just don't go over board and buy one where the tail wraps halfway around your waist, or hangs down to your knee.
Most imporatantly, when determining your size, pick a belt that is labeled as 2-3 inches larger than your waist size.
Many men's leather belts come with buckles that are usually different shades of gold or silver. There difference's between casual belt buckles and dress belt buckles. The casual belt buckles on men's leather belts are typically larger, and come in many shapes and styles. The dress belt buckles on men's leather belts are smaller in width and have smaller buckles in mostly rectangular shapes.
When wearing a leather belt for dress, you should match all of your jewelry (cufflinks, watch, etc) to the color of your belt buckle. The only exception to this rule is your wedding ring, which does not have to match. Otherwise many men would be stuck wearing every piece of metal in gold for the rest of their life.
Now that you know everything about matching, sizing, and how to wear a leather belt, start shopping around to find the best one! A good place to start looking is right here on Avallone Luxury! We have a small curated selection of mens leather belts that include casual d-ring belts and more dressy reversible leather belts.
In order to help make your online shopping experience better and more informative, we have now added videos for all of our mens leather wallets. Our mens leather wallets make up some of the best-selling items on AvalloneLuxury.com. You can now get a better feel for our quality leather, stitching, and how each of our handmade leather wallets looks in natural lighting while being held in front of your face.
The mens leather wallets from our Antique Leather Collection and the Executive Suede Collection make up all of the handmade leather wallets on AvalloneLuxury.com. Whether you need a new leather credit card holder, or a mens leather bi-fold, take your time and go over all the details necessary. Each new product video can be found in our handmade leather wallets section of the website. Then, after clicking on an individual leather wallet, you will see the product video in the details section of that product page.
From hustling knockoffs on the streets of London to becoming Hollywood's preeminent action hero, the man has always known how to sell what he wants the world to buy.
Jason Statham, the last action star, is telling a story about his first career. Once, he was a driver. "There was a guy years ago who used to come down to Crystal Palace, where I used to train. His name was Mad Harry, and he couldn't fucking dive to save his life. Every day at the same time, just before they'd close the pool to the public so we could train, Mad Harry would climb up to the top of the board, thirty-three feet, ten meters high, and he would do this almighty belly flop. Every day. Boom! We would look at each other and go, 'Fucking someone should teach that man how to dive.' "
"I feel like I've had four careers. A career of a fucking street trader, the career of a sportsman, and now I've got a career of something different. Three, actually. I've had three careers."
The terrazzo on which Statham sits is a garden of high-end rattan furnishings. His house spreads the broad way along a downward pitch in the Hollywood Hills. It's wider rather than deeper, so that every room feels long from left to right and shallow from front to back. He is folded into a chair, shrinking downward, feet bare. He is not a big man—he is fit, light on those bare feet, and younger looking than his forty-seven years—and he doesn't stop talking. Not ever. Not really. Not once. He swears the way you wish everybody could, the way some people hope to use exclamation points, as an imprint of enthusiasm. And when Statham looks at an audience of one, really looks at you, it feels like you may be in a little trouble. Somehow he always looks pissed off, wrung out, put upon. World-weary. Black, black eyes. Sharp brow. Twitch of exasperation. He regards things sideways, incredulous at the very prospect of them, constantly asking: Who's this, then? Eyes screw in tighter, brows rise more with each sentence. A squint. It seems to amuse him that he intimidates. He doesn't scowl or use a tagline or fall into an eyebrow routine. He is himself. Tough guy. Drives hard. Even when talking about Mad Harry, the fuckup diver.
"I just don't think he knew what he was doing. Obviously. You have to take the right trajectory. You have to gauge the rotation. It's a lot of physics to put into play. You find a way that you're not gonna go over and do yourself a disservice. You figure it out a little bit. Because if you're landing on your nuts, as a bloke, believe me, it's no fun."
Statham talks like a man who knows things, who understands the physics at play. Drawn from instincts developed as a high-level athlete (twelve years spent on the British national diving team), lessons learned working the stony streets of London, axioms earned while living on thick and rubber-banded cold rolls of cash, everything Statham says stinks of truth. Not the truth. Not core truths, necessarily. A truth. Shit his father taught him. The college of You Gotta Get By. Inarguable, really. Everything declares: He wasn't made in the Hollywood Hills. He came from elsewhere, and it doesn't bother him all that much to remind people of that. It's a real past.
All this makes it easy to become a kind of hostage to his storytelling, like someone stuffed in the trunk while he drives, like some mook in a Jason Statham movie. As such, it would feature only a single word as its title: Snatch, Crank, Collateral, London, War, Redemption. Two words max. The Transporter. Action movies, car movies, chase movies, capers. Though just now the movie that's opening is Spy, Paul Feig's new comedy with Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law, in which Statham plays an absurdly funny comic construct of his own character type.
"Jason makes every movie better," Feig says of his decision to cast the Transporter in a Melissa McCarthy vehicle. "I hate comedy that's trying to be funny. Jason doesn't have to try. He gets it. In every movie, people pick up on his good-natured ways. And I've known that he was funny ever since that first Crank movie. Crank is ridiculous. He's so good in it."
Statham shrugs this off. "I've always been apprehensive about trying to do a fucking comedy, because they're either brilliant or they're fucking terrible. At least in making an action film, there's always going to be someone who wants to see a car chase. Even if a lot of the people don't like it, there will be a lot of people that do. But bad comedy is just garbage. But this works, and I give a lot of the credit—or all of the fucking credit—to Paul and the writing."
Be clear: Statham wasn't looking for a break from his action-movie set. He'd just finished Furious 7 (opened in April, huge hit) and the chance to do Spy came his way. He took it, happily, because the guy needs to work. He makes movies one after another. He has his credos. "It's that peasant mentality," he explains. "Make hay while the sun shines. When you're kicking around and you ain't got no money, that don't feel too good. So when there's finally money coming in, it's hard to say, 'I'm too good for that.' It's finding a balance, really, and it's a difficult thing to manage." Then he answers a question he wasn't asked. "But have I taken on too many jobs? Probably. Look, you never intend for anything to go badly. There's so many fucking moving parts." Movies are like race cars, he says. A lot of different components. "You've got the chassis—that might be the director. The director of photography, he would be the wheels. From movie to movie, the components move around. The combinations change. Sometimes you've got a Ferrari and all the components are top-of-the-range. Sometimes you've got a fucking Fiat Panda that doesn't have, you know, certain elements."
It's a cloudy analogy. He drinks some water, sets his chin.
"When it comes to movies, I'm always trying to find the Ferrari," he says. "When you go to work with Scorsese or Chris Nolan or someone of that caliber, then I don't think you have to worry about what car you're gonna be racing in. You're in the race rather than fucking turning up on a donkey."
This time he is asked: Have you ever sat there at a premiere, watching the finished product, and said, "Oh, no . . ."?
Statham goes a little wide-eyed. "Yeah, I think I've said that more often than not. Yeah." He laughs like a hound.
"I really enjoyed working with Guy Ritchie. One, it gave me a career, and two, they're probably a couple of the best films I've ever done. I thought The Bank Job was a really quality movie. Even working with Luc Besson and doing The Transporter, one and two—pretty good. The Crank movie—I thought that was decent." Here he takes a little breath, then lets himself off the hook. "And the rest is shite."
A big laugh follows before he retreats. "No, no: I take that back. I mean, you do a lot of films. You're always aiming for something and trying to push yourself to do something good. A movie, it's like a very complicated timepiece. There's a lot of wheels in a watch. And some of those wheels, if they don't turn right, then, you know, the watch ain't gonna tell the time."
So now a movie is a wristwatch rather than a car. A watch that sometimes doesn't work. This brings us to his second career.
Once, Jason Statham sold cheap watches. Among other pieces of crap. "I was a 'fly pitcher' is what they call it," he says. He used the streets of London to make a living, starting when he was around fourteen, after his father, whom everyone called Nogger, gave him entry into the hustle. "As a boy, I was 'Nogger's Son.' So I could sit and watch them, masters at work, and everyone had good funny names: Peckhead Pete, Mickey Drippin, Colin the Dog. I'd sit down outside of Harrods and I'd pitch the jewelry. I'd do five chains, I'd do twenty-four-inch rope, the matching eighteen, a bracelet, a figaro chain, a matching bracelet, and either a pendant or a choice of a gent's or a lady's ring. And that would be the whole set. We'd display it in boxes and we'd wrap it up in tissue paper. We'd place it in their palms: 'Here you are, madam!' " He used the proceeds to fund his diving career, including an appearance at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand. (He placed tenth out of eleven competitors in the high dive. His back three-and-a-half somersault with tuck, among other tricks is on YouTube.) "All the other divers were broke. I was the only one who had money. Plenty of money, loads of dough. Two, three grand in a weekend. Me and my mate Fish Fibbens, when we had enough money, we'd buy cars and we'd race the fuck out of each other, all through London. It was really dangerous; we're lucky we didn't get fucking killed or kill somebody." Surely this must have been a kind of training, some small hint of what was to come in The Transporter or a Fast & Furious movie. "I can't really say that that helps you for driving in film, but you know we had that reckless attitude. We had a bit of a You don't care, you're just having a bit of fun. You're just getting behind the wheel and you're game for it. Cars I've always loved. I fucking love cars."
He's sanguine about the vaguely criminal edge of this second career, running the gamut between caveat emptor and the lesser of two evils like any good con man. With a little urging, he'll describe the various pitches and players as a kind of interrelated performance art. Mock Auctions. Five-Pound Nailers. The Ram Shops. Money on Top. Pitch Pulling. Top Man. The Run Out. Punters. Statham learned them all and ran the cons for years. "How do you make money?" he replies to another question that wasn't asked. " 'Cause people are fucking greedy. Human nature says that you want a bargain, whether you want the goods or not. You think that something is a steal, you'll buy it. Ten pounds is not a fortune. And what I'm selling is costume jewelry, basically, that you can buy in Barneys or any of these other fucking trumped-up shops that have rates that are like extortionist. They've got to turn the lights on, they've got carpets and chandeliers. They've got all that to pay for, so they can't sell that chain for what I can sell it for. I'm getting it from the same fucking sources, but I'm selling it with a bit of street theater and having a bit of fun with it, making a living. People ain't getting ripped up. No one's saying it's gold."
This last point is important to Statham, and there's another credo of his, applicable to the selling of potentially shoddy goods as well as the making of potentially schlocky B-movies: "We never used to say it was gold. We never used to say it was gold-plated. We never used to say what it was. They're going, 'Is it stolen? Is it gold?' And to this we used to say things like 'You've heard of Cartier, madam?' And everyone has to answer 'Yes,' because who hasn't heard of Cartier? We got them going by making them say: Yes. Yes. Yes. Now, if you're an idiot and you think it's gold, that's your problem, not mine."
After missing his third Olympic team in 1992, with his third consecutive third-place finish at the Olympic trials (the team took only two divers per event), Statham gave up diving just as the street trade began winding down. "It all just faded away," he says. "There was no more money." He had a vague idea of becoming a stuntman. He started a kind of piecemeal training—a little judo, some boxing, jujitsu. "I didn't have a clue. I wasn't training for nothing particular," he says. "I wanted to break into the stunt business since I wasn't afraid of much. And I knew some people."
One of them was an aspiring director named Guy Ritchie, whom he'd met through a modeling gig and who was casting his first feature, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, about a pack of lowlifes and criminals. "Guy came at me 'cause he was interested in what I used to do on the fucking street. He'd written a character that was the same as me. And he said, 'I love it. Give me some of the patter.' At the time, I had loads of it. Loads of it. And he was fascinated with that, and he just wanted someone who was authentic. He said, 'I'm gonna get someone from fucking drama school to do this? How can they learn what you've learned?' It's such an esoteric fucking subject, no one knows about it unless you're in it. You can't read it in textbooks." Ritchie cast Statham, then in his early thirties, in one of the lead roles, despite his not having a stitch of acting experience.
"I got £5,000 for doing Lock, Stock. And then, for Guy's next movie, Snatch, I got like 15,000," he said. "I would have done them for free just for the opportunity to do something different. I feel like I've had four careers. A career of a fucking street trader, the career of a sportsman, and now I've got a career of something different. Three, actually. I've had three careers."
Today, seventeen years since his movie debut, Jason Statham is an actor. More specifically, he is an action hero, the most singular of his generation, who relied on careers number one and two to ease the transition into career number three. "One of the great things about diving was that we would just do whatever we wanted to do. We used to go down to the gymnastic center and we'd do tumbling into a pit. We'd get a trampoline out and fuck about on that. I learned all these aerial skills that served me great and brought me all kinds of comfort in doing action films. While all these other actors are in drama school learning how to cry, I'm learning how to do aerial acrobatics." As for what Statham called the "street theater" of career number two, well—pitching was performance.
"I've always fucking loved movies," Statham says, and to understand Statham for what he is, a pure action hero, look at the universe of films he describes as his roots and at the men he selects as his icons. "My mom and dad used to show me films—Cool Hand Luke, The Great Escape, all the Burt Lancaster movies. Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson. Even musicals. My mom made sure I saw plenty of Gene Kelly." His strength from the start: physically adept men. Men under siege. Jumping motorcycles, side kicking, leaping, dancing, running, counterpunching, all of these men capable of imprinting on the audience with a single look. A look of fearful wonder in Snatch. A look of businesslike outrage in The Transporter. A look of wild panic in Crank. A look of sour consternation in the latest Fast & Furious.
Statham's notable role in Spy aside, he has no aspirations outside the action genre. "I've never had a fucking acting lesson; no one's telling me how to act," he says. "Would it be better for Daniel Day-Lewis to play Lincoln than me?" He laughs at the prospect. "I think so." And as he drifts off that next laugh, he adds: "But no one's asked me to play Lincoln, and I'm not too worried about not getting the offer."
Not that he minds trained actors. Not really. "It doesn't annoy me, but it can be a little pretentious. So people warming up their vocal chords before a take, going 'Meh, meh, meh'?" He tilts his nogger, raises an eyebrow, gives his patented leer, the one that tells a roomful of matineegoers that he knows what's what, you know what's what, and he's in it with you. An action hero. "Sometimes I want to remind them, at the end of the day, they're just pretending to be somebody else. I'm used to selling fucking jewelry on the street. There's no pretense there."
There is a kind of freedom in working the peasant way, the Statham way. His father, with five careers and counting (house painter, coal miner, fly pitcher, wholesaler, and now a song-and-dance man in the Canary Islands), is still a source of pride for Statham. "He's been good at everything he ever did," he says. "And when he wasn't, he fucking moved on." For Statham, there is no fourth career. No sense that he should be doing anything but this. No next act. If Spy is a surprise to some—a pivot or a repositioning of his brand—it's only because some people are tempted to regard him only as a guy who likes to look good driving fast cars, a vain and humorless lot if there ever was one.
Statham knows his history and is comfortable with the life it has provided. There's home in the Hollywood Hills. There's life with his girlfriend, model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. There's fun, which Statham describes in the most British way possible: "We get drunk and float around the swimming pool." But mostly there's work, and for the last action hero, there is only the work of an action hero. He never stops selling, no matter what the product turns out to be. Sometimes, maybe most times, it's a Panda. Every now and then, a Ferrari. All the same to him. All the better for fans, who trust him to never ham-hand the responsibility of the action star. It's a firm compact, and it is one he never saw coming.
The Statham Type: A Select Filmography LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (1998): BACON, hustler / SNATCH (2000): TURKISH, fight promoter, hustler / TURN IT UP (2000): MR. B, drug dealer / THE TRANSPORTER (2002): FRANK, driver / THE ITALIAN JOB (2003): HANDSOME ROB, thief / CELLULAR (2004): ETHAN, kidnapper / TRANSPORTER 2 (2005): See The Transporter / CRANK (2006): CHEV, hitman / DEATH RACE (2008): JENSEN, race-car driver, reluctant killer / TRANSPORTER 3 (2008): See The Transporter / CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE (2009): See Crank / THE EXPENDABLES (2010): LEE, mercenary / THE MECHANIC (2011): ARTHUR, hitman / GNOMEO & JULIET (2011): TYBALT, a lawn gnome who cheats to win a lawnmower race. Animated. / KILLER ELITE (2011): DANNY, mercenary / THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012): See The Expendables / PARKER (2013): PARKER, thief / THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014): See The Expendables / FURIOUS 7 (2015): DECKARD, assassin. / SPY (2015): RICK, bad spy
Earlier this week the Avallone Luxury website received an order from a retired Wall Street executive (who is allowing us to publish this on the condition we withhold his name) requesting that we send our men’s Executive Leather Bi-Fold wallet to his old friend Bruce Jenner. His request included a note saying “Bruce, I can’t believe how long it’s been since we last spoke. Hope all is well, will try to get in touch when I get back to the USA”.
When we first received the order, we didn’t really think about it. We started processing it for shipping when we received a call from the client (the retired Wall St. executive). He was calling to verify that we received his note for Bruce to be included in his order. The Avallone employee handling the call verified we did, than asked if it was for Bruce Jenner the actual celebrity and Olympic champion. Our client said yes it was. Our employee then mentioned how much Bruce Jenner has been in the news lately with everything going on. That’s when our client seemed a bit surprised. He asked “What do you mean?” Our employee proceeded to tip toe around the issue before realizing our client had no idea what was going on with Bruce Jenner. It seemed he was completely out of the loop, as he had been out of the country for so long.
Once our client learned the full story about Bruce’s transformation, he seemed baffled and surprised. He then asked that we immediately cancel the order and refund his money. We agreed, and he hung up the phone. That was probably the most bizarre sales call we have received to date.
We started joking about publishing this story. Then we decided to seriously consider it. We contacted our previous customer again to gain his permission. We learned he met Bruce through a firm he previously worked for on Wall St., and he agreed to let us publish this as long as he remained anonymous.
Warning: Alden’s site is not for the faint of heart.
His tagline, “Helping you not give a f_ _k,” well illustrates this. His articles aren’t the traditional self help. They are written in a very gritty, personal and honest voice. He gives great advice and his writing style is a nice change of pace.
The Art of Manliness wins the side prize for the best website name. Manliness, as the name declares, is truly an art.
A repeat offender on any list of the best websites for men, the Art of Manliness features articles written to help men break free of today’s stereotypes of what a man is. Many of the articles leverage advice from the past (like how to shave like your grandpa). Anything you read on the site will leave you with something you didn’t know before.
This is by far the best website for men’s DIY projects. It offers a wide range of projects that can inexpensively make your apartment look great. The website also has a great weekly post on Wednesday called “Blow My Mindsday”. This post brings you the best articles from across the web and, as the title suggests, may potentially blow your mind.
His Potion is a great mix of men’s products and entertainment. My favorite post is their Friday Inspiration. This weekly post is a list of really high quality photographs designed to inspire your weekend. I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter to get your weekend started right.
Disclaimer: The newsletter comes Friday morning. If you read it at work, it’s going to be a long day.
Fearless Men’s articles cover a wide range of topics. Their articles are well written, easy to understand and always concise. The authors are great at giving you the information you need without making you read through 5 pages to get it.
Menprovement is designed is to make you a better you. Their mantra is “helping men reach their maximum potential”.
It was founded in 2013, and in less than a year has developed a strong and dedicated following. Their articles always seem to answer the questions that you’re asking right now. They are written in a easy to understand and a very relate-able voice
Can anyone say selfless promotion? Well I sure can…
Mantelligence, and the Mantelligence app, are designed to give you all the manly intelligence you need. The site has easy to read articles answers the questions you’re having in your daily life. They’re easy to read and will undoubtedly help you become a better man.